Good news for travellers as the delayed reopening of Merimbula Airport took place this morning (Friday 25 March).
It was originally scheduled to reopen in mid-March, but that was pushed back after this year’s heavy rains drenched the Far South Coast.
“By giving the runway those extra few days to dry out, we’ve been able to ensure the runway extension and resealing work is completed to a high standard and will last for years to come,” Bega Valley Shire Council’s project services manager Daniel Djikic said.
He said there is still work to be done on the new General Aviation Precinct, as well as roadworks at the intersection with Arthur Kaine Drive, but this will not stop the airport’s reopening for travellers, airlines and general aviation users.
Rex Airlines has flights between Merimbula and Sydney from Friday, while Qantas has flights available for the route from April.
Council said the runway extension and strengthening project is an important step toward increasing the capacity and longevity of the airport, increasing tourism opportunities and making it easier for people to travel for business and leisure.
The overall aim was to provide a runway suitable for larger aircraft and increased passenger numbers in the future.
Extending the runway allows its use by larger aircraft such as the ATR 72 and Dash 8 Q400, which can have up to 78 and 90 seats respectively and are used widely across the domestic airline market.
The plan for the General Aviation Precinct is to provide additional general aviation infrastructure, such as taxiways, vehicle access and stormwater services. This would allow for the relocation of this activity away from secure areas, which will be required for the ATR72 and Dash 8 Q400 aircrafts.
A council spokesperson said the precinct is scheduled for completion by the end of this financial year.
Funding for the project has come from federal, state and local governments and total about $20.45 million.