A new multi-million-dollar pilot training centre will be built in Toowoomba on Queensland’s Darling Downs, as part of a plan by airline giant Qantas to keep up with growing global demand and already 18,000 people have applied for positions.
The site at Toowoomba’s Wellcamp Airport will be one of two centres to be built across Australia — with the second location yet to be announced.
Earlier this year, Toowoomba and Mackay had been shortlisted among seven other regional locations, including Alice Springs, Bendigo, Busselton, Dubbo, Launceston, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga.
The $35 million academy and accommodation facility will have an initial intake of 100 pilots when it opens its doors next year, with a capacity of up to 250 pilots a year.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said enrolments will be open to domestic and international students.
“What we’re ultimately creating is a world-class pilot school for students from Australia and around the globe,” he said.
“Toowoomba will be an amazing place to learn to fly.
“It’s home to Australia’s newest airport and offers over 300 days of Queensland sunshine each year and an environment that is textbook for pilot training.”
More than 18,000 people have so far registered their interest for enrolments online.
Construction will begin next month at Wellcamp airport, and will be operational by mid-2019.
Qantas says an estimated 790,000 extra pilots will be needed globally over the next 20 years – about a third of those in the Asia Pacific – as population growth and burgeoning middle classes see more people take to the sky.
Airlines are already complaining about a shortage of pilots, with Qantas having to cut back some regional services this year because it was running short. The airline was recently granted permission to bring in up to 76 foreign pilots and flight instructors for its QantasLink arm, sparking anger from Qantas’ pilots unions.