A multi-million dollar upgrade to extend Ballarat Airport's existing runways could one day see commercial flights take off from the field.
Labor will today make an election promise of $14 million to expand the length of the main north-south runway to at least 1800 metres if it wins the March 18 poll.
Neither of Ballarat Airport's two asphalt runways are long enough to serve larger aircraft such as the Dash-8 and SAAB-340, which are the most common regional passenger aircraft used in Australia.
Both aircraft require runways of around 1600m to operate, but Ballarat's runways are only 1245m. Freight aircraft operations also require longer runways.
Any expansion could open the door for commercial flights to Sydney, Canberra and other destinations, with QantasLink currently operating a fleet of Dash-8 aircraft and Regional Express use SAAB-340s.
The $14 million project will see the two parts of Ballarat's main north-south runway, cut in half for 52 years by an access road, rejoined and the surface upgraded.
Shadow infrastructure, transport, cities and regional development minister Anthony Albanese, shadow health minister and Ballarat MP Catherine King, and shadow assistant minister for rural and regional Australia Lisa Chesters will make the announcement at Ballarat Airport on Thursday.
The airport currently has commercial aviation and non-commercial users including emergency services and a commercial pilot flight training school.
Labor will pledge $14 million toward the $22.5 million project, with City of Ballarat sourcing the balance of the funds.
The expansion could be the first step toward the City of Ballarat's plans to build an aviation hub to become a major base for emergency services in the region.
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