Mayor: tenants at Gympie’s Kybong airport won't be let down
MAYOR Mick Curran yesterday made a promise to worried businesses at Gympie's Kybong airport.
Commenting on their concerns at regional council plans to lease the airport out to a private management business, Cr Curran said one of the boxes a successful applicant would have to tick would be a fair deal for the aviation-linked businesses and aircraft owners that currently rent hangar space there.
The council, he said, was not "hell-bent on privatising," but it recognised that it was not that good at airport management and was not really in that line of work.
"The only way it is going to be leased is if a package of benefit to the council, the community and the current stakeholders is found," he said.
Aircraft spray painting contractor Hubo Hazelton, of Aero Paint, said he was far from reassured by a meeting yesterday with Cr Curran and CEO Bernard Smith.
Mr Hazelton said he and his family had seen it all before, particularly at Banks town in Sydney.
Privatisation had seen Bankstown go from being the busiest airport in the southern hemisphere in terms of aircraft movements to being a diminishing asset for all involved.
"There were 10 or 12 flying schools, there are three or four now.
"We had a dozen maintenance shops, now there are five or six."
He said private leasing would almost inevitably lead to rent increases that would drive businesses away.
"I can't go through that again," he said.
He wondered about the future of his apprentice, Geoff Mengersen, the second he has trained in Gympie.
Brett Soutter's Pro-Sky Flight Training business started in Gympie and now had businesses from Caloundra to Bundaberg and even one in Port Augusta.
He was worried too.
"They bring in the bean counters, they crunch the numbers and rents go up.
"People shed staff and eventually the small to medium operators move out."
Retired pastoralist and aviator Norm Brown said it was "a lovely little airstrip" and was one of the reasons he came to Gympie