THE Bendigo push to have Qantas establish a multi-million-dollar pilot training school at the Bendigo airport is an opportunity too good to ignore.

This is an opportunity Bendigo needs to grab with both hands.

More than $15 million of taxpayers’ funds has been spent in the past couple of years bringing the Bendigo airport up to a standard befitting a regional city, but there is still work to be done.

The search for a carrier willing to commit to Bendigo and to set up a base at the revamped airport remains ongoing, and the City of Greater Bendigo is still hopeful of further state government funds for an industry park to be established onsite to further enhance the precinct.

But the opportunity to lure someone and something as big as Qantas is an exciting one that cannot be allowed to pass us by.

If Bendigo is serious about the provision of an air carrier service to and from our city, we need to continue that search, but now there is an added layer, and an added lure.

The aviation industry is massive, and industry experts believe the need for trained pilots is only going to grow, particularly as new found wealth in countries such as China and India finds its way into the
sector.

Our city, it seems, is ideally located to meet some of the demand for pilots, and Australia’s reputation within the international aviation industry is as good as any other nation’s, so why not.

Our airport sits just a handful of kilometres from the centre of the city.

We enjoy a favourable climate that traditionally would offer few obstacles to an aviation industry wanting year-round access to quality facilities in a favourable location, and the relative quiet offered at Bendigo is also believed to be both of interest and a potential asset.

As a regional city, Bendigo already enjoys an outstanding reputation in international circles for its medical, education, sporting, finance, heritage and lifestyle facilities and opportunities.

There are potentially, some links between any new facility at the airport and our educational and business institutions that would be strengthened should the opportunity arise.

A lot of work has gone into lifting the standard and profile of the city’s airport in the past couple of years, and securing a training school for pilots would be a fitting reward for the hard work that’s already gone into the airport.

It would also help to further raise the city’s profile internationally and would be an appropriate acknowledgement for our city and for those who had the faith and confidence to support and provide for the level of investment that has already taken place at the airport.

This project needs the bipartisan support of our business and civic leaders if it is to succeed.

It also deserves it.