A Gateway to the heart of Australia
Alice Springs Airport has long served Central Australia as a tourist hub. In 1998, the Airport Development Group acquired the lease for three Federally-owned airports; Darwin, Alice Springs, and Tennant Creek. “The airport serves the community, businesses and government,” says General Manager David Batic, who also runs the Tennant Creek airport. “The general aviation sector is very important to the surrounding regions and remote communities.” Alice Springs Airport holds a 50-year lease plus a 49-year option over Alice Springs from the Commonwealth of Australia under the Airports Act.
The airport offers a wide range of services for its visitors, including free Wi-Fi, a licenced café, free charging stations, undercover parking, shuttles and transportation to and from the town, and a variety of retail shops. Free showers and amenities are also provided, as the area is a hotspot for backpackers. In addition to charter and tourist operations, Alice Springs Airport is home to the Royal Flying Doctor Service as well. “We have state-of-the-art security and screening equipment at the airport, an airline lounge and a spacious terminal design,” David says. Traditional gardens in the airport precinct offer travellers a great place to relax. I believe you get a sense of place and country in this terminal, because you’re very much surrounded with traditional, cultural and indigenous local artwork and artefacts. “
On a daily basis, airport safety officers carry out multiple inspections of the runways and taxiways. “Internally, we also conduct safety inspections of the terminal, in both the public and non-public areas,” says David. “We comply with all of the civil aviation safety requirements and other government safety regulations.” The airport also has a vigilant bird and animal hazard management system, up-to-date navigation aids for aircraft, and an in-depth environmental management policy. “Safety is our focus for all of our operations including front-of-house design,” David says, “to maximise the safety and customer travel experience of all of our passengers when they travel to and from Alice Springs.”
Alice Springs Airport holds a land precinct of approximately 3500 hectares. “Being such a large land mass, we obviously have a potential future for land development,” David says. Co-located with road, rail, and an airport link, the airport’s location offers a number a great opportunities. Also situated on the precinct is Australia’s first large aircraft storage and maintenance facility. “We have a dedicated company here that is established, and they are able to store aircraft long term. It’s a massive area, and we’re hoping to get some wide-bodied and narrow-bodied aircraft in there quite soon.”
Alice Springs has recently completed stage two of a three-stage solar energy program, and is currently producing over 50% of its energy needs through solar generation alone. “Our latest solar project included undercover parking,” David says. “I think we have a great amount of land for future use here to implement some fantastic initiatives such as combining solar generation with undercover parking.”
The numerous steps that Alice Springs Airport has taken towards sustainability have attracted worldwide attention and recognition, including the Qantas Award for Excellence in Sustainable Tourism; a National Solar Sustainability Award recognising environmental excellence in the commercial industry category and the Airport Council International green airports recognition for outstanding achievement. The airport was also a finalist in the World Environment Day Awards. Recently, Alice Springs Airport was also recognised at the Northern Territory Environmental Sustainability awards for the Stage two solar project.
David points out the critical need for close relationships with on-airport partners, which include airlines, regulators, the Northern Territory Government, Tourism Central Australia and the Chamber of Commerce. “Our partnerships with our key stakeholders are very important to us,” David continues, “and we work very hard to maintain our relationships with them.”
The fast-growing competition for yield amongst airlines is shaping up to become a significant challenge for the airport operator sector. “Our role here is to support our partners, and maintain a strong partnership with all our airlines and customers,” says David. “I see this as a major issue moving forward for most airports as the competition increases. As airport operators, we need to support our partners and make sure that the airlines provide a sustainable service for our community, particularly for Alice Springs, where we rely heavily for aviation services.“
David Batic has worked with in both the Defence and civil aviation industries for over 30 years. An Aeronautical Engineer and Manager by profession, he has accumulated over 6000 flying hours as a Flight Engineer. Prior to his current appointment as General Manager of Alice Springs and Tennant Creek Airports, David was the General Manager Aviation at Townsville International Airport, which included Mt Isa and Longreach Airports. He holds a Bachelor of Aviation and is currently a Chartered Engineer though Engineers Australia. His many other professional memberships include the Royal Aeronautical Society, the International Society of Air Safety Investigators and the Safety Institute of Australia. He is also on the National Engineering Associate’s Register in the discipline of mechanical engineering, and remains an active reserve RAAF Squadron Leader. Currently, David is on the executive committee for the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Central Australia in Alice Springs.