Managing Kempsey Airport

Background

Commercial passenger services ceased operating at Kempsey Airport in 2000 and since then primary users have been charter, recreational, and emergency aircraft. Significant community representation to save the Airport saw Council make a commitment to secure and revitalise operations at Kempsey Airport.

In 2011 the Mid North Coast Regional Aviation Plan, identified an opportunity for Kempsey Airport to expand its operation as a general aviation facility, supporting nearby airports that have regular passenger services.

A $2 million Federal Government grant enabled construction of the Aviation Business Park, opened in 2015. The investment aimed to improve infrastructure at the airport in order to attract businesses looking to relocated aviation services to Kempsey.

Australian International Aviation College (AIAC) began providing pilot training from Kempsey Airport in 2014. In June 2016 AIAC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Council to secure a 2400 sqm site of the Aviation Business Park in order to expand its training operations.

In July 2016 Council accepted a state government grant of $173,000 toward and automated fuel system at the Airport, an important addition for all airport users including the emergency services.

Between late 2016 and mid 2018 AIAC have considered options for expanding operations at Kempsey Airport. A Development Application was lodged in late 2016 for construction and operation of an expanded Pilot Training Facility, to be built in two stages and valued at $18 million. AIAC withdrew that application and a subsequent renewal of the original application for their operations. The College currently lease the old terminal building and operate training flights under a restricted agreement with Council.

Council has created the Kempsey Airport Reference Group (KARG) made up of Council and community representatives. KARG have appointed a consultant to prepare a Noise Management Plan and Fly Neighbourly Agreement, which are considered vital documents to manage any further expansion of Airport use. It is anticipated draft documents will be available for public comment before the end of 2018.

How is the Airport currently used?

An aircraft movement is defined as a flight where the plane takes off and lands. In the 2015-2016 financial year there were 2,679 aircraft movements which is consistent with the last five years.

Over this timeframe five key user groups of the Airport accounted for 56% of all aircraft movements:

  • Australian International Aviation College = $23%
  • Recreational Aircraft = 14%
  • Kempsey Flying Club = 9%
  • Professional Pilot Training = 6%
  • Royal Flying Doctor Service = 5%
  • Other = 44%

Economic impact of the Aviation Business Park

AIAC are currently the primary tenants using the Business Park development.

Economic modelling data indicates that when the facility is operating at full capacity it will have a significant economic impact on the broader Kempsey community:

  • Students will spend $8.7 million per year locally on living expenses, entertainment etc during their training
  • International visitors to the students will spend an estimated $200,000 in the local community each year
  • The College is expected to directly generate 58 full time equivalent jobs, with associated spending indirectly creating 226 full time equivalent jobs

More information