Federal Member for Whitlam, Stephen Jones MP, said the Illawarra was the perfect home for Qantas’ Group Pilot Academy building on the success of the Illawarra Regional Airport in Albion Park.

In February, Qantas announced it would establish a new regional group pilot academy capable of training up to 500 students a year and expected to be completed in 2019. 

Mr Jones said he had written to Qantas Chief Executive Officer, Alan Joyce, backing Shellharbour Council’s proposal to attract the project to the region.

“Over the past years, the Illawarra Regional Airport has grown from strength to strength,” Mr Jones said

“This is a fantastic opportunity to build on that success and a fitting addition to our airport which is already home to the internationally-renowned Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS).

Boeing estimates that the world will need about 640,000 additional pilots over the next 20 years, with 40 per cent of those required in the Asia Pacific region.

“Qantas has recognised the importance of regional Australia in meeting this future demand.  I commend them for their initiative.

“Regions like the Illawarra are home to world-class universities, schools and hospitals and offer a fantastic lifestyle for young people and young families.

“If Qantas is looking for a regional centre that can both support their new facility but with the potential to grow and thrive then they should look no further than the Illawarra.”