Corowa runway work ruins $1m gliding season

A GLIDING business says uncertainty over work on the runway at Corowa’s airport is costing them thousands of dollars.

Corowa Council’s decision to resurface the main runway has had a “devastating” effect on Grietje Bruinsma’s Australian Soaring Centre.

The Corowa centre hosts pilots from across Europe at this time of year, but many have claimed some of their money back while others have refused to return next year.

“It’s crippling our business and we are losing money every day,” Mrs Bruinsma said.

“There’s a second runway but it is too short and many pilots have not been able to use it on some days as the wind prohibits it.

“We have had cancellations for next year because they don’t trust us any more.”

Mrs Bruinsma said the season, in its 13th year, helped inject more than $1 million in the district’s economy each year.

“They started work right on the start of our gliding season,” she said.

“It was supposed to be finished by December 9 but further work is needed and they won’t work on it over Christmas.”

Corowa Council general manager Chris Gillard said the resurfacing work was being done with part of council’s federal government funding to repair damage caused by floods in late 2010.

“This work was booked in under the thinking that operators could use the second runway,” he said.

“When it was pointed out by operators that the second runway could not be used, work was fast-tracked and we had contractors working weekends.

“Unfortunately, we had significant rainfall that has disrupted the process and the contractors do not work over Christmas.

“This has now left us with a gravel runway as opposed to a sealed runway prior to Christmas,” he said.”

Mr Gillard said there was no good time to close an airport for maintenance and the council apologised for any disruption caused.

He said the council was waiting on a reply from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to see if the council could get approval for operators to use the main runway from now until work resumes on January 6.

The council hopes to have work completed by mid-January.

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