28 April, 2023
Airport to stay in public hands
THE Mareeba Airport and its industrial estate will remain under the control of Mareeba Shire Council after an exercise to explore whether the facility could be leased to a private entity failed to identify a suitable operator.
Council announced its intentions earlier this year to explore the possibility of leasing the airport and industrial precinct to a private company in a bid to drive the economic future of the facilities, sparking strong opposition from businesses and users who feared the move would lead to unacceptable higher fees and charges.
But the call for expressions of interest (EOI) failed to deliver any potential operators, with all three submissions not addressing the mandatory requirements despite council utilising an independent aviation expert to assist with the development of the information required, and the EOI opportunity widely advertised.
According to a council report, all three submissions were “non-conforming and are unsuitable for further evaluation”.
“Consequently, it recommended that council does not proceed any further with the Expressions of Interest process for the Mareeba Airport,” it stated.
The news has been welcomed by the My Mareeba Airport Association (MMAA) who lobbied to retain the fa-cility in public hands.
“After several meetings with councillors, including Mayor Angela Toppin and the CEO, I was doing my best to influence the decision not to lease the airport to a private entity and, as president of association, I and the members are very happy with the out-come not to lease the airport,” MMAA president Graeme Normington said.
“I commend the CEO Peter Franks, the Mayor and all the Councillors in their decision not to lease the airport.
“The MMAA is very supportive of the Mareeba Shire Council in their de-cision and we will continue to promote
the Mareeba Airport to the general aviation industry to entice more operators to relocate to Mareeba and enjoy the many benefits of working and living in the Mareeba region.”
Mayor Toppin said council looked forward to working with the MMAA.
“The group kindly offered their assistance with the marketing and growth of the airport,” Mayor Toppin said.
“Council looks forward to working together with the group to promote this very important asset.”