Airport talks continue

Council has unanimously agreed to enter into negotiations with Merimbula Airport Handling for the operation and management of Merimbula Airport for a two-year contract with an option to extend a further year until the runway and terminal extension works are completed.

The move follows a resolution in December 2017 when council agreed to enter into negotiations to extend the existing contract for services for the management of Merimbula Airport for an additional two years with Airport Agencies.

However council staff said that on May 3 the director of Airport Agencies formally advised of the company’s intention to resign as the airport operator by December 31.

We have been told by the general manager that there are 20 plus people who wanted to develop businesses along the airport strip.

Cr Robyn Bain

Given that council is in the process of making major upgrades at the airport and that it was believed competitive tender was not an option, staff recommended negotiations start with Merimbula Airport Handling.

Airport leases were also the subject of discussion at the recent council meeting after meetings where lessees had called for greater security of tenure for their businesses.

The lease arrangements at the airport are not a subdivision with business or hangar owners owning their buildings but not the land. Fairfax Media has been told this may place restrictions on the length of lease that is able to be offered.

Council proposed and agreed to offer a three plus three year lease.

Councillor Robyn Bain initially spoke against the proposal saying that lessees needed a “bankable lease so they could progress with their businesses”.

“We have been told by the general manager that there are 20 plus people who wanted to develop businesses along the airport strip,” Cr Robyn Bain said.

Council agreed to provide a further tenure of six years (two consecutive three year leases) to each of the existing lessees at Merimbula Airport and also agreed to “expedite the finalisation of the Merimbula Airport master plan and funding options for the development of the General Aviation Precinct at the northern end of the site”.