28 January 2022

Merimbula Airport closes for six weeks for runway upgrade

| Albert McKnight
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Merimbula Airport

The runway extension at Merimbula Airport is progressing. Photo: Bega Valley Shire Council.

No planes will be flying in or out of Meirmbula Airport for about six weeks with an upgrade to the runway forcing its closure.

The airport will shut from 31 January 2022 so the runway extension and strengthening project can be completed and it is expected it will return to normal operations on 14 March 2022.

“The overall aim of the project is to provide a runway suitable for larger aircraft and increased passenger numbers in the future, both of which will bring better services and increased investment to the shire,” Bega Valley Shire Council project services manager Daniel Djikic said.

“We know that a full airport closure is inconvenient for businesses, travellers and the community alike, however the expert advice is that we need to seal the runway during the hottest part of the year to ensure the best engineering result and longevity of the runway.

“Closing the airport for six weeks means we can complete the runway works to the quality standard we need, and within the shortest possible time and budget.”

Council said the process for strengthening and overlay of the runway firstly required foamed bitumen stabilisation to increase runway strength, followed by a wearing coarse consisting of a two-coat seal.

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Mr Djikic said Rex and Qantas were aware of the closure and arrangements were being finalised with emergency services to allow for their helicopters to refuel.

The first stage of the runway’s project has been completed with the southern extension platform being constructed.

The second stage will involve the northern extension as well as sealing and strengthening of the entire runway.

Work on the new general aviation precinct will also continue during the six week closure.

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By extending the runway it will be able to be used by larger aircraft such as the ATR 72 and Dash8 Q400, which can have up to 78 and 90 seats respectively and are used widely across the domestic airline market.

Funding for the project has come from federal, state and local governments and total just about $20.45 million. The works are scheduled to be completed in May 2022.

Council said customers who booked flights during the six-week closure period should contact Qantas or Rex to discuss their options.

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Michelle Meredyth-Stewart7:29 pm 01 Feb 22

This is very inconvenient for Merimbula residents and visiting specialist doctors flying in to Merimbula. The closure was not publicised adequately, so many planning disasters can be anticipated. If the council made this decision in September they should have informed the community long before now. It was only revealed to me when I tried to book a flight to a scientific conference next week and suddenly the Rexair website announced the closure. Last week there was no mention of this at all on the Rex air booking site.

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