• Commercial development looms large over the western end of the northern apron. Aviation tenants fear the 2020 Master Plan is set to swallow more aviation infrastructure and squeeze out businesses. (Steve Hitchen)
    Commercial development looms large over the western end of the northern apron. Aviation tenants fear the 2020 Master Plan is set to swallow more aviation infrastructure and squeeze out businesses. (Steve Hitchen)

Moorabbin Airport Chamber of Commerce Inc, (MACCI) has encouraged aviation businesses to make submissions to the new airport master plan to help stave off commercial development that is seen to be strangling the airport.

Tenants became alarmed in July last year when they were handed six-month eviction notices to allow Moorabbin Airport Corporation (MAC) to bulldoze a large part of the northern apron and begin development of new commercial, non-aviation buildings.

Several of those evicted were not given alternative premises to move into, and fears are rising the the 2020 draft master plan due for release in mid-April will herald the destruction of even more aviation infrastructure.

At a networking function at Royal Victorian Aero Club last night, MACCI president Rob Simpson stressed the dire situation facing aviation businesses and encouraged the gathering to voice objections, especially given the 2015 master plan attracted only six submissions.

"We can't do anything about the 2015 master plan," Simpson said. "The problems we are seeing with that plan is that they are picking and choosing what they decide to do and not to do. There are these wonderful glossy things in there, but they may do absolutely nothing going forward for aviation. They may do nothing for us to stay in business.

"We all know, literally, they really don't care; we're just a thorn in their side rather than a viable income source."

Simpson's company, Simpson Aeroelectrics was one of the companies evicted last year.

"I got six months notice," he said. "On 13 June I was told my eviction date was 29 December, and I had no legal recourse. The letter said the notice was irrevocable ... I've lost 50% of my business with the demolition of that hangar.

"Do you want that for your business? If you don't want it, get behind the chamber."

Simpson's sentiments were echoed by Councillor Tracey Davies from City of Kingston, who expressed her concerns about the future of the airport and predicted more dire circumstances if people did not respond during the master plan consultation period.

"The time for submissions will shortly arrive ... I would really suggest that everyone looks at that master plan and if you don't want to read that document, at least put in a response outlining the difficulties you have, because if nobody responds to the Department of Infrastructure, they're going to think everything is fine," Davies said.

"I've walked around this area, and I'm really concerned about the number of warehouses around this site, and I've had a couple of briefings by tenants and one from MAC, and I'm a little bit concerned about some of the inconsistencies about what I've been told and what I've seen.

"You should set out your individual concerns, that the airport is being strangled ... that you haven't got enough space for planes to land, that the costs you're being charged for your rent is ridiculous and that it seems to be skewed towards commercial non-aviation tenants."

MAC is owned by the giant Goodman logistics and property development conglomerate, which aviation businesses have accused of being reluctant to engage on issues and described as "unhelpful."

Simpson said he believed the best was to counter Goodman was as a collective rather than as individual companies.

"What we need is for everyone to get together," he stressed. "The problems we've seen recently are dividing everyone, and they've done that time and time again.

"It's quite simple: bit-by-bit-by-bit they chip away until it gets to the stage that we don't care. We're too traumatised to care, we just plain give up.

"If you want this airport to flourish, you've got to get off your bums and not not care."

MAACI was formed around 10 years ago and currently has 15 members. The chamber hopes the impending loss of more infrastructure will encourage more people to join and strengthen the voice for aviation tenants on the airport.

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