Council's '$20m' airport plan could triple Rocky's population
IN THE 1960s, Rockhampton Mayor Rex Pilbeam pushed ahead with the construction of the Fitzroy River Barrage.
It was a visionary move, with the project marking the city's coming-of-age.
Decades on, Rockhampton Regional Council is making another visionary move.
Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow believes the decision, made unanimously by council, will be a game changer for the city.
With the FIFO hub expected to create thousands of jobs, Cr Strelow said a second airport could see the city's population boom potentially to 250,000.
"We think we've got expertise we can offer," she told The Morning Bulletin.
"We know this is a good business deal for our airport."
When it comes to airport operations, Cr Strelow said Rockhampton was "no small fry", listed in the nation's top 15 operators and managing dozens of international charter flights for military operations.
"We're a significant airport in our own right and by offering this service to Adani we secure a position ourselves as primary FIFO hub hopefully for more than just Adani," Cr Strelow said.
"The deal would be that we have the opportunity to provide services to other mines as they develop in the Galilee Basin.
"Not all of them are going to work from this particular runway, but for those that do it just enhances the value.
"For somewhere in the order of $20 million we are confident we can deliver a commercial return to the ratepayers of Rockhampton via the airport and we can deliver opportunity to our community that will see Rockhampton grow exponentially."
While Cr Strelow acknowledges the move is "unusual" for a council, she said it was a strategic move for a business the size of Rockhampton Airport, which is valued at over $100 million.
"A satellite airport that is very closely linked that allows us to provide point to point services is the sort of investment a business of that scale could envisage making," she said.
"We believe we've got good financial management skills and this decision around what we're doing at the airport has been taken on a fairly cold commercial point of view.
"It is core business to us and a logical extension of what we're already doing."
It's an offer Cr Strelow said would be hard for another city to top, with Rockhampton the only contender whose airport is a council asset.
"We're out to get the lot, no two ways about it," she said.
"The ultimate decision will be Adani's to make, but when it came to final bids on the table we believed that we couldn't afford to leave any stone unturned.
"It's something we can offer that other players cannot.
"We believe our control of both ends of the operation offers a great advantage.
"To suddenly inject 1000 new jobs into our region and the flow that has in the community is the sort of earth changing, dramatic change that will see us take off," Cr Strelow said.