Cameron Dick, John Wagner and Paul Antonio at Wellcamp Airport talking about Qantas

Why Qantas academy could boost economy by $600 million

QANTAS' proposed pilot training academy could boost Toowoomba's economy by $600 million if a plan to build the facility in Toowoomba is approved by the airline.

Speaking to media on Monday morning, Wagners Corporation director John Wagner said while modelling was still being done, the flow on effect to the local economy from the training facility would be between $500 million and $600 million.

"If we are successful with this bid it will mean significant infrastructure, 700 new jobs for this region, brand new jobs that don't exist already," Mr Wagner said.

"It would mean 60 to 70 aircraft based here full time.

"We would expect more passenger services, which would give us a better schedule and cheaper prices for the travelling public. It would have a huge flow-on effect for the region."

Last month Qantas announced Toowoomba had been shortlisted as one of nine possible for locations for its new pilot training academy

TAKE OFF: Getting ready to show Qantas around Wellcamp Airport are (from left) John Wagner, Cameron Dick and Paul Antonio.
TAKE OFF: Getting ready to show Qantas around Wellcamp Airport are (from left) John Wagner, Cameron Dick and Paul Antonio. Tobi Loftus

Mr Wagner said Toowoomba's proposal would not just bring benefits to Wellcamp, but to other airports in the region too, as the airline would fly its L-plater planes in and out of those airports.

"They include Pittsworth, Millmerran, Warwick, Dalby, Oakey after hours, Amberley after hours, along with Kingaroy," Mr Wagner said.

He said Wagners were prepared to invest heavily in training facility.

"Wagners are prepared to put in significant infrastructure, to the churn of $55 million, to make this thing a reality," he said.

"The single biggest thing we bring to the table is we are not capital constrained, we make decisions quickly.

"We've got a very strong track record of bringing projects to fruition. We built the whole airport in 19 months.

"So we can have this up and running in five to six months from when they sign a commercial agreement."

Mr Wagner said there were a number of other benefits to having the centre based at Wellcamp, including 315 clear flying days a year.

"The reason Wellcamp is attractive is we have uncongested airspace, a big long runaway and compared to other airports and not a lot of traffic, which makes it an ideatraining centre," he said.

"We have a university that has started a Bachelor of Aviation degree, with an intake of about 80 to 85 people a year.

"They need somewhere to train, so why not train them somewhere they do their study. We think we're very well placed."

Qantas representatives met with Mr Wagner, along with Toowoomba mayor Paul Antonio and Queensland State Development Minister Cameron Dick on Monday to see Wellcamp Airport in person.

"We'll be showing Qantas the master plan for the airport, where we would locate (the training facility) at the airport where the taxiway would be built, the accommodation village, which would go up against Cecil Plains Road," he said.

"We'll show them what we can do. We're also taking them to other regional airports, so they know what the training area would look like."

Mr Dick said 640,000 new pilots would be needed across the globe in the next 20 years.

Last week Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise CEO Ali Davenport said the economic benefit the 500 students alone would bring would be huge.

"A student is worth approximately $28,000 per year to the regional economy," Ms Davenport said.

"So if there are 500 of them coming as part of the Qantas Pilot Academy this would mean a massive $14 million to our region."



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