Australian pilots are pleased that Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Barnaby Joyce has rejected Moorabbin Airport Corporation's latest draft master plan.
The proposed Moorabbin Airport 2021 Master Plan (the fifth for the airport since privatisation) outlined developments at the airport for the next five years that would have seriously undermined the site’s primary purpose as a centre for aviation.
Moorabbin Airport Corporation, owned by property developer Goodman Group, provided for removing more aviation infrastructure and included non-aviation activity, such as retail and commercial business development, that could compromise aircraft and helicopter safety at the busy airport in South-Eastern suburban Melbourne.
Moorabbin (Harry Hawker) Airport is regarded as the second busiest airport in Australia in terms of aircraft movements. As one of the main general aviation airports in the country, aviation operations (including flight training, air freight services and charter activity) have been projected to increase in the coming years.
“Retaining the flying training and aircraft maintenance infrastructure is vital to ensuring the viability of Moorabbin Airport as part of our national aviation assets,” said Safety & Technical Manager Captain Marcus Diamond.
‘Pilots are specifically concerned with buildings and structures near runways that have the potential to create dangerous turbulent wakes in strong winds, generate or reflect distracting light sources or interfere with in-flight visibility or critical navigation aids,” he said.
The Australian Airline Pilots’ Association (AusALPA) has also previously reinforced concerns about excessive development at other leased Federal airports, including Essendon Fields Airport, in the Northern suburbs of Melbourne.
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These secondary airports are also vital to the ongoing training of Australian and regional pilots and the ongoing survival of the General Aviation industry.
‘More than a quarter of Australian commercial pilots are trained through Moorabbin Airport flight training schools,’ said Captain Diamond.
‘Inappropriate retail and commercial business development that hampers the operations of these flight schools will directly impact the number of pilots coming through the pilot training pipeline.’
AusALPA strongly recommended that the transport minister reject the current Master Plan application (in a letter dated 18 March 2022).
‘We considered that the 2021 master plan was riddled with further impediments to aviation activity at Moorabbin and would have further degraded aviation infrastructure at the airport,’ said Captain Diamond.
‘The Airports Act 1996 has clear obligations for leased Federal airports - such as Moorabbin and Essendon - to be used as functioning airports,’ he said.
Moorabbin Airport Corporation Pty Ltd (MAC), owned by commercial and industrial property group Goodman, run by founder Greg Goodman, purchased a 99-year lease from the Federal Government in 1998.
Essendon Airport Pty Ltd (EAPL), owned by the families of Linfox trucking company founder Lindsay Fox and property developer Max Beck, also struck a (50-year) lease with the Federal Government in 1998.
AusALPA represents more than 7,100 professional commercial pilots and is committed to protecting and advancing aviation safety standards in Australia. It is the Australian member association of the International Federation of Airline Pilot Associations (IFALPA The Global Voice of Pilots) which represents more than 100,000 pilots in more than 100 countries.