Progress stymied

UNLIKE most businesses in the Gympie region, Paul McKeown and Hubo Hazelton's enterprises at the Gympie Airport don't have power.

Mr McKeown, director of The Recreational Flying Company, and Mr Hazelton, who owns Hazelton's Aero Paint, said while Gympie Regional Council upgraded powerlines to other hangars in the Kybong-based airport that already had power, they were asked to pay $7500 to have a conduit run to their hangars.

They said it would be an additional cost to have the power connected.

While they said if the $7500 cost was necessary, they would pay it if it also meant the power was hooked up.

However, Mr McKeown said considering they already paid commercial leases on the hangar space, he believed they should have been provided with access power without the pricey fee.

They said businesses at the airport operate daily without power and are forced to run off their own generators.

Mr McKeown estimated he'd poured $25,000 of fuel into his generators in the past three years.

The cost was even more for Mr Hazelton, who spends $120 a week powering generators to supply three-phase power to his business. Without it they can't operate.

An additional concern for the business owners is customer access. Currently, customers and clients are required to walk some 200m along tarmac to get to the hangars or cut across an active aircraft movement area.

Either way, customers are greeted by a cut-out drainage ditch and a rough dirt and rock track.

They said much of the funds the council has spent on the airport would have been better used had businesses and others who regularly use the airfield been consulted.

They said a "cracker dust" aircraft taxi strip installed along their hangars was unusable as it was too light and dusty to accommodate operating aircraft. To combat the issue, Mr Hazelton currently tows aircraft more than 100m from the tarmac to his hangar.

"We don't have a vote or a say on what goes on out here," Mr Hazelton said.

Mr McKeown said if the airport was correctly invested in, it could become a "jewel in the crown for the shire".

"There's no limit as to what an airport can provide for a town," he said.