Whyalla Mayor Lyn Breuer said Becker Helicopters announcement confirms the city is officially in flight mode and ready to soar to new heights.
Representatives from Becker Helicopters, Australia’s largest helicopter flight training company, were in Whyalla today (Wednesday, January 24) to reveal their plans to create an operating base in the Upper Spencer Gulf region, operating out of the Whyalla Airport and creating 80 new jobs in its first three years.
Making today’s announcement during a two-day trip to Whyalla, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said Becker Helicopters’ expansion into Whyalla will create a new business sector for the town and increase economic activity in regional South Australia.
The South Australian Government will support the establishment of the new base in Whyalla through the Economic Investment Fund.
The new facility – to include hangars, hard-stands and administration buildings – will be established at the Whyalla airport to provide pilot training for military personnel and international students every year.
In addition to the 80 ongoing full-time jobs – predominantly pilot instructors, engineers, operations and administration staff – a further 32 local jobs from flow-on work are likely to be created along with 60 positions during construction of the facility over a two-year period.
Discussions are underway between Becker Helicopters, the University of South Australia and TAFE SA to form training partnerships, facilitating the delivery of degree-level and vocational aviation and aerospace training courses in Whyalla.
Mayor Breuer said the move by Becker Helicopters to Whyalla was entirely appropriate as the city’s economy starts to take off again. Council has been helping the company for the past year to make this exciting move to Whyalla.
“We have been talking with Becker Helicopters since January last year and believe they could see the benefits of setting up an operating base in Whyalla even before the sale of our steelworks to the GFG Alliance went through,” Mayor Breuer said.
“Their move to Whyalla confirms the fact the Whyalla economy is really starting to soar again.
“I must pay tribute to our Chief Executive Officer Chris Cowley who was instrumental in handling all the negotiations to pave the way for this exciting move to our city.
“The support we have had from the State Government and Defence SA in these negotiations has also been key component.
“With Becker Helicopters coming here, yesterday’s opening of the SSE Australia solar farm and GFG Alliance making several exciting announcements for the steelworks and its mines, this is just the start.
“We are looking forward to even more industries and job-creating projects coming to Whyalla to make this city and region great again.”
Mayor Breuer also thanked Sanjeev Gupta who attended today’s announcement. The mayor said Mr Gupta, the executive chairman GFG Alliance which now owns and runs the Whyalla Steelworks and associated mines, continued to be a driving force in Whyalla’s surging economy with companies like Becker Helicopters and SSE Australia.
Becker Helicopters Executive Director, Captain Mike Becker thanked the Whyalla Council and the South Australian Government, through Defence SA, for the assistance in making the move to Whyalla.
“This is an exciting day in the history of Becker Helicopters,” Cpt Becker said.
“We are proud that South Australia is going to be home for our major training capabilities and have been overwhelmed by the support and assistance we have been receiving from the local Whyalla Council and the South Australian Government through Defence SA.
“Our partnerships with TAFE SA and UniSA are integral to this operation and the type of courses we are offering.
“The infrastructure that is existing in the town and yet to be built will see our capability increase as the opportunities for the area and the local community grow.
“South Australia is the Defence State and as such we intend to bring defence business into the area.
“We are excited about engaging in the community and providing our aviation and aerospace services into the future.”
Member for Giles Eddie Hughes said the move would not only create immediate jobs but would mean more jobs in the future as the Whyalla economy diversifies.
“It will help diversify Whyalla’s economy and create jobs in a new industry,” Mr Hughes said.
“There is real potential for additional job growth and there will be a significant spin off for accommodation, hospitality and training given the number of trainee pilots that will be based in Whyalla.
“We have to do everything in our power to diversify our economy and create new jobs.
“It is great to see successful Australian companies like Becker Helicopters investing in South Australia.
“It will help diversify Whyalla’s economy and reduce the region’s economic reliance on steel manufacturing and mining.”
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