Mackay, Queensland, has been announced as the preferred location for the second Qantas Group Pilot Academy site.
This follows a competitive process to select two locations from a shortlist of nine regional cities, with Toowoomba in southern Queensland announced as the first location for the Academy last September.
The Academy is part of the Qantas Group’s strategy to build a long-term talent pipeline for its own airlines and help the broader industry meet the increasing need for skilled aviators.
Estimates suggest that 790,000 more pilots will be required globally over the next 20 years with around one third of them in the Asia Pacific.
Mackay was selected due to a high proportion of clear weather days per year, access to uncongested airspace, access to support infrastructure and ability to attract students and trainers to live in the area.
Qantas will now work with Mackay Regional Council, Mackay Airport and the Queensland Government to further progress the proposal for the site.
In the meantime, Qantas is focused on opening the Pilot Academy’s first site in Toowoomba which is on track to open its doors to the first student intake in September 2019 with construction on hangars, classrooms and student accommodation underway.
Qantas Group Pilot Academy Executive Manager, Wes Nobelius, said the airport, government and community had shown why Mackay would be an ideal place to train the next generation of pilots.
“Mackay offers optimal flying conditions and a sunny Queensland lifestyle which makes it an ideal site for a pilot academy,” Wes said.
“It’s home to good infrastructure, a proud community – even a new, state-of-the-art sport and recreation precinct for students, trainers and their families. We were really moved by the way locals came together with the #MackayWantsYouQantas campaign.
“Our initial focus is opening the first Pilot Academy site in Toowoomba and rapidly expanding the number of pilots there next year, before we progress our plans for Mackay.”
Assistant Minister for State Development and Member for Mackay, Julieanne Gilbert, said Qantas’ decision was a vote of confidence and will create jobs in Mackay, and in Queensland.
“There was intense competition from around Australia and as a community, we are delighted that Mackay has been recognised by the Qantas Group as an ideal destination to locate a future second pilot training academy,” she said.
“Mackay has a welcoming community that is close knit, inclusive, and culturally sensitive with established networks that will make Qantas and the student pilots feel welcome.”
Mackay Airport General Manager Garry Porter said he was delighted with the announcement and believed the decision would support the master planning that has been done by Mackay Airport.
Mayor Greg Williamson said the announcement was a great endorsement for the Airport and the region. “This decision is a reflection of the collaborative efforts across the community. It is a great vote of confidence in the Mackay region and its economy by an iconic Australian brand in Qantas.”
Mr Nobelius said today’s announcement brings to a close the process to narrow down the possible locations for the Academy from more than 60 to just two.
“To the remaining six shortlisted cities – we thank all of you for taking part. If we could have placed a Pilot Academy in every one of your cities, we would have,” added Mr Nobelius.
“We know these proposals took a great deal of time and effort, but it gave us insight into your community and plenty of ideas for where we can grow in the future.”