Councils continuing to struggle to keep their airports operating

The Shire of Wyndham-East Kimberley has extended a landing fee waiver for airlines using the Kununurra and Wyndham airports in a bid to underpin local tourism.

It is one of a number of councils forced to continue waiving fees and charges normally applied to offset the costs of running airports.

Councillors from the WA shire approved the five-month extension of the waiver on aircraft landing fees at the East Kimberley Regional Airport and Wyndham Airport at a meeting last week.

The fee waiver was introduced last July 1 to reduce the impact of state and regional border closures and the resulting drop in tourists to the East Kimberley.

Four local airline operators have been spared a combined $87,400 in landing fees between July and December. They will save another $85,000 in fees before the waiver ends on 30 June.

Shire president David Menzel said while he was hopeful the operators would eventually return to normal revenue levels, the council was keen to do its part to keep them afloat in the meantime.

The shire’s decision comes as a Senate committee continues its inquiry into the future of Australia’s aviation sector, post Covid-19.

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) gave evidence to the inquiry last week, having already lodged a submission.

Supplied with information from 14 local governments, ALGA told the inquiry that many airports in remote areas have become a major financial burden for the councils that own them, even as they remain committed to keeping them going for the benefit of their communities.