Redcliffe Airport Chamber of Commerce Incorporated (RACCI) fears that flying schools and businesses on the Queensland airport will be forced to close if the Morton Bay Regional Council goes ahead with a plan to hike airport lease rates.
RACCI president Alan Carlisle told Australian Flying that some operators are facing increases of up to 300% on their previous leases and that some rates were already significantly higher than comparable airports at Toowoomba and Caboolture.
"A number of businsess at Redcliffe Aerodrome will have to close; they cannot afford the rental increase," Carlisle said. "We'll have no less than three flying schools close. There's seven schools on the airport, so that's half of them.
"Operating costs are going to go up, the cost to students will go up and students will obviously go elsewhere trying to find a cheaper deal.
"A lot of the operators at Redcliffe escaped from Archerfield and came here to operate in a commercially-viable way. Now, the 'Archerfield-greed syndrome' is catching up to them."
According to Carlisle, operators are being offered new leases at rates somewhere between $15-28 per sqm depending on the size of the land to be leased, and that lessees are being required also to lease hand-stand in front of their hangars, which they can't park on because it forms part of the taxiway.
Carlisle believes that the problem stems from the council's lack of transparency and reliance on an evaluation that is not appropriate for an airport.
"We believe the valuations are inappropriate, were applied by a non-expert-aviation valuer and we are now commissioning expert aviation valuers to give independent advice, which we're prepared to share with the council," Carlisle said.
" At the moment their decision [to raise charges] is inappropriate, lacks consultation, lacks information and lacks reality."
RACCI is continuing to battle Morton Bay Regional Council on behalf of their member companies and expects the council decision to raise rates to come under more scrutiny.
"The council is now reviewing the issues we're raised and a number of the councillors are astounded that there's been a complete lack of consultation, a refusal to communicate, a refusal to share documents; documents which the council claims forms the new valuations.
"We are feeling confident that our valuer will give us correct documentation to go to the council and give them the opportunity to make an informed decision."
RAACI believes the issue of lease rates is only one example where the council failed to communicate with airport operators, leading to inappropriate decisions.
"There is a big disconnect between the operators and the council, and something needs to be done urgently," Carlisle said. "We're absolutely astonished that the airport has no committee of management. The council refuses to have one, so they're making decisions in complete isolation to the experts that are here on the aerodrome.
"The council has made a litany of inappropriate and sometimes dangerous decisions."