THE Victorian government has put a competitive bid to Qantas to encourage the carrier to select Bendigo as the location of a pilot academy, according to premier Daniel Andrews.

The bid included a cash incentive, but Mr Andrews said he would keep the amount confidential.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce announced in February the airline would build an academy that would start training pilots from 2019.

In August, after Qantas shortlisted sites and toured each location, Mr Joyce said there would be two academies in two separate regional cities.

Given each state is offering incentives to the carrier to host an academy, it stands to reason Qantas would choose different states as locations.

Last Friday, Mr Andrews said he had spoken to Mr Joyce a week earlier and would talk to him again before a decision, if that was what was required.

“I had a conversation with Alan Joyce, quite a detailed conversation about the Bendigo proposal,” Mr Andrews said.

“I think it is best if I don’t conduct the conversation via media conference but we have made a very competitive offer because we are very supportive of this.”

Asked if there was money on the table, Mr Andrews said: “Yes, but I am not going to be detailing it for you for obvious reasons.

“We don’t want to be detailing for every other city who desperately want this pilot training centre the offer they might need to beat,” he said.

“We are very pleased that we have gone from about 60 different cities, down to nine and I think there is another short list due to come out fairly soon.

“We hope to get a positive outcome.”

As of late August Qantas said that selection would be announced in a couple of weeks.

“The Academy represents a commercial opportunity for Qantas, but it’s also important for the future of Australian aviation. We expect that pilots completing their training with the Academy could fly for other airlines, the defence force or services like the Royal Flying Doctors.

“Our team has travelled across the country to meet with community leaders, airport operators and local suppliers in each of the nine shortlisted locations.

“We’ve been really impressed with the enthusiasm from each of the shortlisted cities. It’s been fantastic. And it’s reflected in the levels of support put forward by governments, councils and the private sector.

“There’s a lot of excitement about using the academy to leverage more jobs and investment for the region.”

– Sharon Kemp