Council gets $1.1m for airport building loss

Shellharbour City Council has received a $1.12 million insurance payout for the loss of its terminal building at Illawarra Regional Airport.

The building, which was home to The Aviator Lounge Cafe and Restaurant, was destroyed by fire in May 2013.

The funds will be restricted for use on future infrastructure at the airport, however it could be 2015 before the long-awaited airport master plan is presented to the council.

The master plan, which will guide the development of the airport over the next 15 to 20 years, has estimated costs in excess of $125 million across its various projects and stages.

Shellharbour council general manager Michael Willis said his priority was establishing the council’s proposed business unit board.

Mr Willis said the primary purpose of the board was to provide ‘‘an outside commercial perspective’’ on the business activities of the council, which includes assets such as the airport and The Links, Shell Cove golf course.

The general manager said considering the large sums of money proposed with the airport master plan, it was important that a business plan for the airport be prepared first to guide the master plan’s development and implementation.

‘‘Most airports generally have ancillary business activities, but at the moment we don’t have any plan how we want these to develop,’’ Mr Willis said. 

‘‘At the moment we respond to approaches ... we need to decide what businesses we need to be in.

‘‘In the case of the airport, it is right beside residential properties and that needs to be taken into account.’’

Mr Willis said another consideration was the potential impact on the airport of the proposed Albion Park Rail bypass.

Illawarra Regional Airport was transferred to the council’s ownership by the federal government in 1992 as part of the Wollongong Aerodrome Deed. 

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