Transport Minister Eric Charlton today announced a $500,000 upgrade of the Derby airstrip and associated infrastructure, which is expected to lead to expanded air services to the town.
The Minister said there was great optimism in the town following today's official opening of the Western Metals' new export facility at the Derby wharf and the upgraded airport would be a further boost for the town.
"Derby Shire submitted the upgrade proposal under the Regional Airports Development Scheme to allow the airstrip to handle Fokker 50 or other 30-40 seat aircraft on a regular basis," Mr Charlton said.
"The runway and main lead-in taxiway will be resealed at a cost in the vicinity of $500,000. The shire has agreed to contribute $150,000 to reseal the main apron parking area and restore the terminal, which suffered fire damage in October.
"The airport upgrade is set against a backdrop of a town now confident in its future. The Western Metals lead and zinc processing activities at the Derby port are expected to bring in new permanent residents."
Mr Charlton said Transport had held talks with Ansett, Qantas and Western Metals to explore ways of improving the air service to Derby. A local operator had also been involved in the discussions.
The key discussion point was to see if a scheduled service could be linked to the Western Metals fly-in- fly-out operations at its existing and new mines in the Kimberley.
The Minister said the current Derby town airport was in need of major maintenance. Some local residents saw shortcomings with the existing service provided by smaller Jetstream 31 aircraft operated by Skywest, with many people preferring to drive to Broome to catch a larger plane and link with a more regular schedule.
Media contact: Doug Cunningham 8 9321 7333