An upgraded Port Macquarie Airport will help push passenger movements up to an estimated 450,000 people by the end of the next decade.
The airport continues to underpin the region's business and tourism industries. It is considered a critical transport infrastructure asset, an employment location and a commercial activity centre.
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council - through a series of grants from federal and state governments - has spent close to $30m in the past 10 years on improving the airports ability to cater for larger aircraft and more passenger movements.
The current $6.5m terminal upgrade is on track to open by late November.
That upgrade will see a doubling of the terminal building footprint to some 2000 square metres.
It is expected this will help cater for the forecast growth in passenger numbers and provide enhanced passenger facilities of a quality and level of service equal with contemporary regional airport stands.
The works include, expanded, passenger check-in area, departures and arrivals areas, main concourse area, passenger carry-on and checked baggage security screening areas and improved baggage claim area and facilities.
In 2013 council completed the upgraded the runway, taxiway and apron infrastructure at a cost of some $20.5m.
The Port Macquarie Airport is the fifth largest regional airport in NSW - by passenger movements - with some 230,000 arrivals and departures each year.
It caters to a catchment area of about 130,000 people.
While the airport is serviced by QantasLink, Virgin Australia and Alliance Airlines, the lack of a low cost carrier option is in contrast to neighbouring airports at Coffs Harbour - with Tigerair - and Newcastle - Jetstar.
Pricing analysis indicates that the introduction of a greater range of competitive airline services could lead to a 25 to 50 per cent reduction in current pricing offered by existing airlines.
A low cost airline would stimulate demand for inward visitation to the region.
An ill-fated foray on a direct service between Port Macquarie to Melbourne was short-lived.
Regional airline Jetgo Australia pulled all services from July 17, 2017.
Virgin Australia has this week announced adding four additional frequencies per week on the Port Macquarie to Sydney route which comes into effect in 2020.
Despite that, the upgraded airport will play an increasingly important role in facilitating the movement of people to and from the Mid-North Coast to support the continuing growth in the region's population over the coming years.
Once operating, the benefits of the upgraded airport in financial terms would see an additional $27.8m in gross output per annum, an additional $14.8m in value added or GRP per annum; an additional $7.6m in wages and salaries per annum, and, an additional 130 full time equivalent jobs per annum.
A Productivity Commission report released on October 22 this year examines whether current regulatory arrangements constrain the ability of airport operators to exercise their market power over passengers and airlines through unduly high charges, poor service quality, or both.
Also making news:
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox from the Port Macquarie News. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, SIGN UP HERE.