Jetstar will continue flights to Melbourne's Avalon Airport until at least April 2015 following the Victorian state government brokering an $11m deal in the hopes of cementing Avalon's future as an international airport.
The package includes $5.5m of taxpayer's money matched dollar-for-dollar by $2.75m each from Avalon Airport owner Linfox and Jetstar itself.
Jetstar currently has five flights a day at Avalon, but the route was considered at risk due to low patronage and the airline's subsequent need to heavily discount fares.
Aviation Industry Minister Gordon Rich-Phillips says the deal secures Jetstar's five flights a day.
The agreement with Jetstar "locks it in for the 18-month window so that we can actually continue to work with Avalon Airport to secure international services, because obviously that's the long term plan for Avalon,"state Aviation Industry Minister Gordon Rich-Phillips told ABC Radio.
Last year Avalon Airport revealed plans to build a new $15m terminal to cater for the customs and security requirements of overseas flights along with space for retail and duty-free. Airport owner Linfox hopes to then attract other low-cost international airlines such as Scoot to Avalon.
Light-rail link planned
The 'missing link' is a railway connecting Avalon to Melbourne, as the airport is located 55km south-west of the Melbourne CBD and currently rely on a shuttle bus or private transport to Melbourne.
Earlier this year the previous and expensive plans for a direct heavy rail link to the airport evolved into a cheaper light rail line branching off the main Melbourne-Geelong train line.
A new Avalon Airport interchange station would be built between the current Lara and Little River stations, with an automated ‘people mover’ to shuttle passengers to and from the airport.
The light rail spur carries a far cheaper price tag than the estimated $250 million direct line pledged by the Victorian Government in 2010, and would also be faster to build.
It’s modelled only on similar systems used both within airports and to connect them to nearby centres, as well as the driverless trains which will run on Sydney’s new North West Rail Link.
Avalon Airport chief executive Justin Giddings envisions “the airport experience” as beginning at Avalon Airport station rather than waiting for passengers to arrive at the terminal.
"They'd check in, drop their bags off, have a coffee or whatever, and get their boarding pass. Then when they're ready, they'd get on to a light rail to the airport."
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