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​Qantas taps seaside town for second pilot academy

Qantas has selected Mackay, Queensland as the site of its second pilot academy, citing clear weather and access to airspace.

"The Academy is part of the Qantas Group’s strategy to build a long-term talent pipeline for its own airlines and help the broader industry meet the increasing need for skilled aviators," says the airline.

"Estimates suggest that 790,000 more pilots will be required globally over the next 20 years with around one third of them in the Asia-Pacific."

Other aspects in Mackay's favour were support infrastructure and the desirability of Mackay as place to live. Mackay is located near the sea in Australia's Queensland state.

Mackay Airport has a single 1,981m runway, 14/32. Imagery from Google earth suggests a good deal of clear land around its periphery.

The airport is served from Brisbane by Qantas, Jetstar Airways, and Virgin Australia. In addition QantasLink operates services to Brisbane, Cairns, Rockhampton, and Townsville.

Mackay was selected from a short list of seven cities. Overall, 70 cities were interested in hosting a Qantas pilot academy. The first academy is set to open at Toowoomba's Wellcamp airport, with its first take intake of students in September.

Construction of hangars, classrooms, and student accommodation are underway at Toowoomba.

Wes Nobelius, who heads Qantas's pilot academy initiative, says the focus is "rapidly expanding" the number of pilots at Toowoomba next year, "before we progress our plans for Mackay."

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