Orbost Airport has taken out a national award, being crowned Small Non-PRT Regional Aerodrome of the Year at the Australian Airport Association’s (AAA) National Airport Industry Awards 2021.
The airport, along with Bairnsdale and Mallacoota airports, is managed by East Gippsland Shire Council.
Orbost Airport is a code 2 Airport with a singular runway, terminal building, airbase and aircraft hangars. Generally, it has 1000 aircraft movements a year, but this increases significantly in summer when it is used for firefighting activities.
The judges highlighted the integral role of Orbost Airport in the emergency response to the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires. During the fires there were over 200 aircraft movements daily across Council’s three airports.
Council was also recognised for the safety and security improvements at the airport and the updated presentation of the facility. Some of the improvements included a full Airfield Ground Lighting upgrade which included emergency back-up power supply, new security fencing, CCTV, airfield line marking, terminal building improvements and general facility improvements and presentation.
AAA Chief Executive James Goodwin said the role Orbost Airport played during the bushfires showed how critical airport infrastructure was to the entire community in times of disaster and emergency.
“As fire ravaged through north-east Victoria, Orbost Airport housed critical emergency service aircraft and personnel for two months allowing first respondents to fight the blaze from the air,” Mr Goodwin said.
“Our small airports and aerodromes are valuable assets for our regional communities, particularly in isolated areas.
Mayor Cr Mark Reeves said Council was very pleased to see its efforts recognised.
“In a vast shire like East Gippsland, our airports are incredibly important. They link us to aerial firefighting and other emergency services, as well as health services and tourism. Of course, aviation can also be a great leisure activity,” Cr Reeves said.
“During Black Summer, Orbost Airport played an instrumental role in supporting the air-based fire attack works and ensuring the personnel and materials were brought in to support this critical work. It has continued to play an important role during COVID ensuring that community members needing medical support could be air-lifted to hospitals and specialist appointments despite the restrictions.”
Bairnsdale Airport previously won Small Regional Aerodrome of the Year in 2018.