13 December 2018
An airport servicing one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks is receiving investment from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).
Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia Pty Ltd (Voyages), the operator of Ayers Rock Resort (ARR), has been approved for a $27.5m loan to upgrade runway facilities at the Connellan Airport at Yulara in the Northern Territory.
The airport, operated by Voyages, services the Yulara region and supports tourism to the world heritage Uluru and Kata Tjuta National Park.
The NAIF loan will fund upgrades of the airport’s runway, taxiway and apron, provide runway lighting along with contractor accommodation. It will provide new opportunities for Indigenous employment and businesses and complements existing loans including with ANZ and the Commonwealth Government. NAIF CEO Laurie Walker said “The NAIF loan will extend the useful life of the runway, securing the economic future of the area. The runway upgrade is forecast to generate economic benefits for the wider community of $370 million over 20 years and support for up to 320 full time equivalent jobs.”
Indigenous outcomes are a key focus for NAIF and Voyages has important targets that satisfy NAIF’s criteria for a mandatory Indigenous Engagement Strategy.
“The company aims to continue to increase Indigenous employees at ARR, building on the current 40% Indigenous workforce,” she said.
“Voyages has 100 Indigenous Australians start at its training academy every year and recruits many more.”
“The project has a target of sourcing three to five per cent of goods from companies that are 50 per cent or more Indigenous owned” Ms Walker said.
“This infrastructure upgrade is essential to maintaining access and growth in tourism to the World Heritage listed Uluru and Kata Tjuta National Park, including by supporting future night flights.”
“It will also support police and emergency services, which use it as a key operating facility, giving families continued access to specialist healthcare” Ms Walker said.
“The Royal Flying Doctor Service can continue to operate via the airport, and the community won’t need to make the alternative 10-hour round trip to Alice Springs,” she said.
Voyages Chair Rick Allert AO said NAIF’s support in upgrading the Connellan Airport will ensure the ongoing success of tourism in Central Australia.
“Visitor numbers last year were over 360,000, including both domestic and international passengers, and the numbers are growing each year,” Mr Allert said.
“The upgrade to Connellan airport will ensure many more visitors can experience one of Australia’s most iconic tourism locations, Uluru.
“The project will provide opportunities for Australian businesses and as part of the NAIF funding arrangements, Voyages has developed an Australian Industry Participation Plan and encourages Australian businesses to register their interest for project work through the company’s website”.
To date, NAIF has committed almost $350 million in Investment Decisions and Conditional Approvals to job generating infrastructure projects in the Northern Territory across the aquaculture, tourism, transport and resources sectors.
“We are excited and committed to continuing to work to support economic and population growth across the Territory”, Ms Walker said.
Media contact: Matt Pitman 0448 114 986