Aircraft owners are up in arms after being banned from under-wing camping at the Birdsville races.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has confirmed the Diamantina Shire Council has banned the popular practice at the September race meet making life harder for hundreds of aircraft owners and pilots.
Council said the decision had been taken as a result of significant concerns for safety and the escalating costs of providing security for the aircraft camping site.
AOPA said it was deeply concerned with the ban.
"Under-wing aircraft camping is not an unusual or unsafe activity, and is enjoyed nationwide at a wide range of airports and events," AOPA said.
"To our knowledge, there has never been a single accident or safety concern involving under-wing camping in our nation."
AOPA CEO Benjamin Morgan said the council ban on under-wing camping can only serve to damage the success of the Birdsville races, by sending a clear and loud message that aviators are unwelcome and should stay away.
"This short-sighted council ban, risks damaging many years of goodwill built between the aviation community and the Birdsville races," Mr Morgan said.
"Should it remain in place, local businesses will without question suffer with pilots nationwide electing to travel and invest elsewhere.
"I am urging the Diamantina Shire Council to immediately withdraw the under-wing camping ban."
AOPA Australia has written to the Diamantina Shire Council CEO Leon Love, seeking an urgent meeting to discuss the situation.
Instead they are drafting a plan for an additional 'tent city' on the oval to accommodate additional patrons including pilots and passengers.
Council said each year around the Birdsville Races, the airport experiences an increase in aircraft movements.
"The volume of movements means that the usual methods of managing aircraft at the site and in the air space are not feasible," Council said.
"Each year an aviation management business has been contracted to provide air traffic control, marshalling and related services during the Birdsville Races."
In 2019 this was provided by Platinum Aviation for $55,000 and Council believes cost neutrality would be difficult to achieve given the only revenue is a $25 landing fee per aircraft.
Council's preference was for a staged reduction in service levels starting with the elimination of the camping Special Event Zone from the airport.
"This would reduce the need for security staff on airside gates 24/7 and therefore there would be a reduction in contractors costs significantly," Council said.
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