Avalon Rail Link: Priorities Out Of Order?

The question of whether or not Victoria’s rail network should be extended into Geelong’s Avalon Airport has been a point of debate for a number of years.

With news today that the proposed heavy rail link be submitted for environmental assessment, proponents of the plan are hailing a ‘milestone’ in the project.

“The aim of the Coalition Government’s Avalon Airport rail link is both to improve options for people travelling from Geelong and Melbourne and to secure the airport’s future as our second international airport.”

Future second international airport? Despite AirAsiaX almost signing up for international flights into Avalon some years ago, Avalon Airport has never managed to attract an international carrier to the site.

This may be partly due to several failed attempts to gain international status from the relevant authorities scaring off potential tenants, but “securing the airport’s future as our second international airport” is a pretty bold statement.

While this has long been the plan, without a carrier choosing the airport, there is no future as an international airport. Not yet, at the very least.

More concerning are the domestic airlines not seeing Avalon as a viable location.

Tiger Air no longer flies to Avalon, and Jetstar is reconsidering its presence there:

“The Geelong Advertiser revealed this morning that the discount carrier – [b]Avalon’s only passenger carrier[b] – was reviewing its tenure at the airport, where it has been losing millions of dollars. In Geelong for other announcements this morning, Dr Napthine said it was “disturbing news.””

Even Jetstar’s parent Qantas will soon cease heavy maintenance activities there.

Why is the state government pushing forward with the process – (which undoubtedly costs money) – when Avalon is not even assured of retaining the one and only domestic airline currently making use of the airport?

Yes, the current activity is designed only to confirm and then secure the land for the future rail corridor – but really? Surely the time, money and effort needs to be spent to ensure there are passenger airline services left to make use of the rail link?

Shouldn’t we be looking to secure its future as a domestic airport, before we try and secure its future as an international airport, and put in a rail link?

At this stage, I think the priorities are completely out of order.