Airports in Australia have welcomed the Australian Federal Government’s release of funding guidelines for its new Regional Airports Program which will provide funding for maintenance and upgrades at eligible regional airports.

The programme aims to improve safety and accessibility for regional airports by supporting critical air infrastructure that will improve safety; connectivity of the regions; facilitate improved delivery of essential goods and services; or meet operational requirements of aeromedical and emergency services in the regions.

To be delivered over four years, airport owners and operators will be able to apply for a part in the $100 million funding programme.

“For many regional communities, the local airport provides an essential link to the rest of Australia,” deputy Prime Minister and minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack commented. “That’s why we’ve committed $100 million over four years from 2019–20 to 2022–23 to help owners of regional airports right across Australia deliver safer runways, taxiways and other safety upgrades such as new fencing or safety equipment.”

He added that the programme would “make sure regional airports meet the needs of communities and local industry now and into the future.”

The Australian Airports Association (AAA) welcomed the release of the guidelines and said the programme would help address the “$170 million aeronautical infrastructure deficit that exists in the regions, with many regional airports facing persistent budget deficits over the next 10 years.”

“With so many regional airports struggling to make ends meet, access to funding for essential maintenance and upgrades will be a game changer for the regions,” said AAA chief executive officer Caroline Willkie, calling regional airports “the lifeblood” of communities.

“This is an important step towards ensuring a strong, safe and vibrant regional airport network for the benefit of all Australians,” Willkie continued.

Projects ranging from runway and taxiway works to animal fencing and safety equipment will be eligible.

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