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Marshall’s Monarto Mirage

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

The airports industry has slammed the Opposition Leader’s plan for a freight airport at Monarto.

The Australian Airports Association, the national industry voice for 260 airports and aerodromes in Australia has also written to the State Government and advised that; it was not consulted on the proposal; it threatens the viability of current facilities and will have a negative impact on future investment plans.

The Association emphasised that airlines rely on both passenger and cargo revenues for route viability. If freight is separated out, passenger routes are threatened.

This follows earlier criticism by the SA Freight Council (SAFC), the peak body representing the industry including the Adelaide Airport, and the very group the Opposition Leader claimed he was helping.

The Council’s Evan Knapp revealed Mr Marshall had not bothered to consult with the industry on his plans. The SAFC highlighted that the majority of air exports from South Australia, and every other capital city airport, is carried in the belly of passenger aircraft and it’s this very combination of passengers and freight that makes the air service viable.

Background

Infrastructure Australia, the Federal agency that examines the nation’s infrastructure needs and makes recommendations to the Commonwealth Government about viable investments, has not featured a freight-only airport.

The projects identified in the Infrastructure Australia Priority List undergo a rigorous prioritisation process and are independently assessed by Infrastructure Australia's Board.

Quotes attributable to Investment and Trade Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith

I give the Opposition Leader due credit for finally having a policy on something, but here’s a tip – first talk to the people you hope might support your idea – in this case the SAFC and those businesses it represents.

Not only did the Airports Association can the idea, the developer of a regional passenger and freight airport in Queensland John Wagner, whose $100 million airport near Toowoomba was said to be the inspiration for the Monarto Mirage, scotched the Opposition plan. He told Queensland media; ‘You need to have a mix of passenger and freight; you would never pay for an airport just on freight’.

As the Mirage lost its shimmer and sheen, attention turned to the impact such a poorly constructed policy would have on current businesses and investment prospects.

The Airport’s Association’s letter highlights the lack of consultation on the proposal; its threat to current facilities and the fact it will have a negative impact on future investment plans. It points out that air freight is a tiny fraction of Australia’s freight sector, accounting for zero point one percent if Australia’s international freight by weight. Due to the small volumes involved, air freight is ideally suited for carriage in passenger aircraft.

The GlobeLink airport idea is a dangerous dud. In order to preserve the future of current businesses and future investments and jobs at Adelaide Airport, the Opposition Leader must immediately wipe the Mirage from his policy desert. Until he does the jobs of 12,000 workers at Adelaide and Parafield Airports will be unnecessarily put at risk.