Merimbula Airport runway to close for six weeks as part of extension program

Merimbula Airport runway to close for six weeks as part of extension program

Council has confirmed that Merimbula Airport runway will be closed for six weeks during a major strengthening and resealing project early in 2022.

Work will be carried out on the Merimbula airport runway extension project in two phases.

Acting CEO Anthony McMahon said Symal Infrastructure, the contractor appointed to build the platform for the southern end of the extension, will begin work in late September, on the first phase, with works designed to allow Rex and Qantas to operate scheduled flights on a shortened runway.

"We've been working closely with the airlines, to minimise the impacts on their operations," Mr McMahon said.

"Additionally, as this phase will involve building in the vicinity of Merimbula Lake, we'll be keeping in touch with the oyster lessees regularly, including real-time water monitoring during the earthworks, to ensure any impacts on oyster farming can be mitigated."

During the first phase of works general aviation will be restricted to take-offs and landings in the early morning and late evening on weekdays, after 1pm on Saturdays and all day on Sundays.

This work is expected to be completed by mid-November 2021.

The second phase of the project involves the strengthening and sealing of the runway and is scheduled to start January 31, 2022 with a full runway closure planned for six weeks.

Sealing the runway during the day, at the hottest time of the year will provide the best long-term engineering result as warmer temperatures are a key factor for the successful resurfacing of runways.

Council's acting CEO Anthony McMahon

Council's property and project services manager, Daniel Djikic said council was working with all stakeholders to manage the impacts.

Asked about emergency situations, Mr Djikic said the relevant combat agencies had been notified and contingency plans would be put in place during the closure.

"The airport will still be able to accept rotary wing aircraft in the event of emergencies," Mr Djikic said.

Mr McMahon said council looked at night works and rolling closures during the working day but discounted them as options.

"Sealing the runway during the day, at the hottest time of the year will provide the best long-term engineering result as warmer temperatures are a key factor for the successful resurfacing of runways," he said.

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Council looked at two windows for the start of the runway resurfacing, one in November 2021 and the other at the end of January. However the November date was always questionable as it gave no leeway for an overrun on the first phase.

Mr McMahon said the January date fell after the NSW school holidays and towards the end of the busy summer holiday period.

Council has confirmed the project timing with Rex and Qantas and other key airport stakeholders.

"We are acutely aware that a continuous six-week closure will impact our operators, with a knock-on effect for tourism and businesses during this period," Mr McMahon said.

"However, to complete these works in the shortest possible timeframe and to the required quality and cost, this is the best long-term option for our airport. Starting the work after school holidays means airlines and the local economy can still capitalise on summer travel."

Mr Djikic said alternative arrangements with freight would need to be established during this period and the freight companies had been advised of the closure.

The six week closure has some contingency in place for weather-related delays but this will need to be managed by both council and the principal contractor during the construction phase.

Council's property and project services manager, Daniel Djikic

Asked about the risks associated with wet weather Mr Djikic said it was part of the reason for the timing as historically February was a drier period during the year.

"The six week closure has some contingency in place for weather-related delays but this will need to be managed by both council and the principal contractor during the construction phase," he said.

Mr McMahon said the extension to the runway was an important step toward increasing the capacity and longevity of the airport.

"The overall project will extend the runway length for larger aircraft with more passengers, which will have great benefits for our shire over time, increasing tourism opportunities and making it easier for people to travel for business," Mr McMahon said.

The project was made possible with funding from both the state and federal governments.

More information about the project can be found on the major projects webpage on council's website: https://bv.lyte.link/4756/2D8C

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