FLYING HIGH: Qantas has revealed plans to open up a training academy to teach 500 pilots a year.
FLYING HIGH: Qantas has revealed plans to open up a training academy to teach 500 pilots a year. Barry Leddicoat

Rocky mayor to bid for $20million pilot training facility

ROCKHAMPTON Mayor Margaret Strelow says incentives will be on the table as council looks to lure an airline giant to set up a $20m training base in the region.

Qantas yesterday unveiled plans to establish a pilot academy by 2019 to train up to 500 pilots a year near an existing airfield in regional Australia.

A spokeswoman for the airline told The Morning Bulletin Rockhampton was one of the regional centres on the drawing board.

"Rockhampton is the perfect place for this new facility and Council will be doing everything in its power to make sure we are in the running," Cr Strelow said.

"We have the competitive advantage in that Qantas indicate they're looking for an existing airfield in regional Australia to provide easy access to uncongested airspace.

"Council will be seeking to have discussions with Qantas around exactly what we can offer them and we would absolutely look at incentives to bring this academy here.

"To have 500 pilots training in our region would not only cement our reputation as a key aviation hub but would also provide a massive economic boost to the local economy.

"We look forward to working with the airline and Queensland Government to ensure we put our absolute best foot forward to make Rockhampton home for this new academy."


Rockhampton Regional Council mayor Margaret Strelow.
Rockhampton Regional Council mayor Margaret Strelow. Contributed.

Council successfully offered an incentive to lure mining giant Adani to name the region as one of two FIFO hubs for the Carmichael Mine project.

Rockhampton and Townsville councils will jointly fund an airstrip - a project that is estimated to cost about $30million - for the mine's FIFO workers.

It is estimated the Qantas training facility will require an initial investment of up to $20 million.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the academy would become a critical part of the national carrier's long term talent pipeline - and an important resource for Australian aviation.

"Over time, we see potential for the academy to become a competitive advantage for Australia in the region," Mr Joyce said.

"It could train pilots for other airlines and grow into the largest academy of its kind in the southern hemisphere."

The academy will initially train around 100 pilots a year for direct entry into the Qantas Group, including Jetstar and regional carrier, QantasLink.

Depending on demand from other parts of the aviation industry, this could grow to 500 pilots a year on a fee-for-service basis.

"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," Mr Joyce said.