The Australian Airports Association calls for sustainable security funding
The AAA has renewed calls for the establishment of a AU$100 million Regional Airport Infrastructure Fund – the fund would help address the $170 million aeronautical infrastructure deficit that regions already face.
AAA Policy Director, Simon Bourke, said while the industry was committed to ensuring security requirements were met, the high cost of compliance would put a strain on already struggling regional airports, most of which were owned by local councils.
Bourke said: “Regional airports nationally face a AU$25 million shortfall to upgrade terminals and infrastructure so they can meet the needs of the government’s new security requirements. This is a significant burden for smaller airports that simply do not have the economies of scale to offset these costs. With 60 per cent of regional airports already facing persistent budget deficits, it is essential government and industry work together to recognise the real impact of these changes. The AAA urges the Federal Government to provide additional funding to meet the full cost of implementing the new requirements and ensure a safe, secure and sustainable future for our regional airports and the communities they serve.”
The Federal Government allocated AU$50.1 million for regional airport security upgrades in the 2018-2019 budget to meet the costs of new equipment.
The funds do not cover costs associated with infrastructure and terminal improvements to make room for new equipment and ensure smooth passenger traffic flows within terminals. There is also no funding for ongoing costs associated with operating and maintaining newly installed equipment.
Regional airports already face a AU$170 million aeronautical infrastructure deficit over the next decade, excluding the impact of additional security costs.
AAA Chief Executive Officer, Caroline Wilkie, said regional airports were struggling to make ends meet, and funding for essential maintenance and upgrades was essential to ensure the sustainability of our regional network.
She said: “Many regional airports are operated by local councils and expect persistent budget deficits over the next 10 years. These airports provide vital connection to local communities, ensuring access to emergency services, business networks and loved ones. Councils must invest in maintenance and upgrades to ensure their airport’s safe operation and regulatory compliance, and we face the very real risk of airport closures if a sustainable funding model is not available.”