Whyalla Mayor Clare McLaughlin and Acting CEO Kristen Clark have presented Whyalla City Council’s position on proposed security upgrades at the Whyalla Airport to a Senate Inquiry.
New regulations mean Whyalla Airport will be required to implement passenger and checked baggage screening.
The Australian Government’s Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee held a public hearing into new regulations affecting airport security (Aviation Transport Security Amendment (Security Controlled Airports) Regulations 2019) on 7 May 2020.
The meeting was held via video conference and included participants from Perth, Adelaide and Canberra.
“Council’s position is that it supports security screening, even though it barely meets the minimum criteria,” said Acting CEO, Kristen Clark.
Mr Clark said the need to provide screening was based on the flight seating capacity and that only a small percentage of flights in and out of Whyalla each week exceeded the seating capacity.
Mr Clark said he and Mayor McLaughlin explained to the committee that Whyalla could not meet the costs of the necessary upgrade, which would require terminal works and new equipment.
“We (Whyalla Council) would be looking to federal government to meet the costs should we need to install the equipment currently required,” said Mr Clark.
It estimated cost of an Airport upgrade is $5.6m capital expenditure plus $1m per annum inoperating costs.
The Senate committee was told Council continues to support two airlines which are considered essential to the economic and social health of the region.
Mr Clark said Council was looking forward to increasing passenger numbers which will allow Whyalla to grow, once the COVID-19 restrictions were eased.
He also said he believed the Committee now understood the unique needs of Whyalla Airport and that he would continue to seek Australian Government funding for any required upgrades.