FLASHBACK: The first Qantas Link 737 landing at Gladstone in December 2013, helping thousands of Bechtel employees make it home for Christmas.
FLASHBACK: The first Qantas Link 737 landing at Gladstone in December 2013, helping thousands of Bechtel employees make it home for Christmas. Mike Richards GLA231213QANT

Push to bring $20 million Qantas Pilot Academy to Gladstone

IT'S not often all tiers of government group together for a common goal, but one thing our politicians can all agree on is the push to bring the Qantas Pilot Academy to Gladstone.

Australia's leading airline signalled its desire to set up a pilot academy earlier this year with airports from all over the nation scrambling to catch The Flying Kangaroo's eye.

The Academy will open its doors in 2019 with an initial intake of 100 pilots and up to 500 pilots a year once fully established.

The airline's initial investment would be up to $20million to establish the new facility and it would provide direct entry for pilots to enter the Qantas Group, including Jetstar and regional carrier, QantasLink.

It's likely to be established near an existing airfield in regional Australia with easy access to uncongested airspace - something Gladstone has an abundance of.

Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd, Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher and Gladstone Regional Council are all on board in the push to have the academy based here.

"I've written a letter of support to the Gladstone Airport Corporation to make sure we're well and truly in the running for this facility to come to Gladstone," Mr Butcher said.

"We have everything that's needed for this training facility to come Gladstone... There's plenty of clear days for pilots, it's not windy like other places and we don't flood like Rockhampton does, so there's plenty of positives for it to come to Gladstone."

Competition for the academy will be hotly contested with about 40 regional airports also expressing interest.

Bundaberg, Mackay and Rockhampton are just some of the locations keen to court Qantas with a decision due in 2-3 months.

 

Bundaberg is the perfect place for Qantas to establish a pilot academy capable of training up to 500 pilots a year, to help meet the increasing need for skilled aviators in one of the fastest growing global industries.
Bundaberg and Mackay have also expressed interest in becoming the base for the Qantas Pilot Academy.

Mr O'Dowd has also been advocating for the academy, making sure Gladstone's interest is recognised at a federal level.

"I've been pushing Gladstone's case to be the home of the Qantas Group Pilot Academy," he said.

"Competition will be steep, but we have the lifestyle to accommodate the trainees and uncongested airspace they require."

Gladstone Region councillor Peter Masters said the knock-on effect if the academy were built here would be "sensational".

"It's something we have to put our best foot forward and make sure our submission is first class," he said.

"We've been working with all tiers of government and the Department of State Development with our submission so we're happy to do whatever it takes."

"One of the things they're looking for in establishing an academy is a location which is not only attractive to the cadets, but also the trainers and their families and I can't think of a better place in Australia to set this up than Gladstone.

"We've got the reef, the bush and infrastructure here ready to go."

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the academy would become a critical part of the national carrier's long term talent pipeline.

 

Qantas chief executive officer Alan Joyce at charity lunch It's A Bloke Thing at Wellcamp Airport, Tuesday, August 9, 2016.
Qantas chief executive officer Alan Joyce. Kevin Farmer

"Qantas has a proud history of having some of the best pilots in the world and we want to make sure it stays that way. By creating our own academy, we can train the next generation of pilots to the Qantas Group standard," he said.

"Boeing estimates the world will need about 640,000 more pilots in the next 20 years, with 40 per cent in the Asia Pacific region.

"That level of demand makes the academy important not just for Qantas, but for Australian aviation more broadly so that all parts of the industry have access to qualified pilots in a country that relies so heavily on air transport."