When we arrived on the first floor, I turned to face the visitors. “I have had this airport terminal designed so that it can handle domestic and international visitors, as shown by the security measures put into place, and would be able to cope with at least a dozen flights an hour if need be.
As you are probably aware, the state government has been looking at alternative locations for a secondary airport, to cope with demand, when there are any weather issues or other reasons that may delay operations at the main airport in Perth.
I thought it would be the best option to get active with providing the alternative airport that will be beneficial to the Northam community, while the state government drags its feet on what they thought is the best option. I would be happy if the Northam Shire Council was in support of this project, especially considering that you have a detention centre ion your community, which would mean the need to use an airport to transport the detainees,” I said.
“You have made a very valid point there Mr Devonport, would you be prepared to make sure that all employment opportunities went to people who live within the shire region first?’ the Shire President stated. “Sir, I have already been doing that, as the light industrial sheds were built by locals, as was the installation of the security boundary fences, and the road and car park were built by the local road construction crew,” I replied.
“Well Mr Shire President, I approve of how Mr Devonport has made use of local companies and workforce for his project, which I agree would be very beneficial to our community. Mr Devonport, what is the length of the runway that you plan to construct if approval is given?” the Shire CEO said.
“It would be no longer than 2,250 metres long, which is all the room I have to build it, with the Mortlock River at the south end, and Goomalling Road at the north end, just before it goes under the highway, but there is a way of making it a little longer by 450 metres,” I replied.
“Please go on Mr Devonport, we would be interested how you would make the runway 2,700 metres long in such a small area,” the CEO asked, “Well the runway would run parallel and just east of what was Lunt Street, which is on the western side of this terminal,
I also own the farmland on the west side of Goomalling Road and south side of Great Eastern Highway, the farmland on the north side of Great Eastern Highway. I also own the land on the south side of Mortlock River and North and south side of Yilgarn Avenue as far as the rail line, so as not to have any noise or low flying issues with aircraft taking off and landing,” I added.
“Thankyou for clarification on that, another question that has come to mind, if you were interested in expanding the runway a little further, by installing heavy duty culverts over the Mortlock River, would to be willing to pay the costs for extending it that little bit further to the south?” one of the councillors asked.
“Yes Ma’am I would indeed, if it meant more money going into the local community, I would indeed,” I replied, “Mr Devonport, what would be your plans with operating this airport, would you contract it out to a big company that has a lot of experience with operating airports?” another councillor asked me.
“No sir, I would like to keep it all within the community, of course there will be the need to employ security personnel and there would be a need to allow baggage handlers, and federal police in place. If the Shire council can assist with training as many people as possible, then I see why we cannot employ mostly local people for most positions.
One more thing, I would also like to recommend that there be a curfew on aircraft landing and taking off from Northam, so as to keep the peace with the community,” I announced. After giving a full tour of the whole terminal, the Shire staff and councillors thanked me for a very informative morning, and told me that the Full Council will discuss this matter as a matter of urgency, and let me know the outcome.
Over the next two weeks I approached the owners of the three home owners and five land owners on the east side of Fairway Bend road, as well as the home owners of four homes on the East end of Wood Drive, to purchase their homes, and land, at a much higher rate than their value.
All home owners accepted my offer and sold me their homes, which at first I was going to demolish all of them, as they were too close to where the runway will be, but I decided to keep two houses on Wood drive for Airport staff that I would employ to be afterhours security around the airport.
When I received an email from the Northam Shore Council, I was a little surprised by two bits of information that it contained. I had been given permission to build and operate the new Northam Commercial Airport. I was also given permission to extend the airport by 450 metres to the south over the Mortlock River, as far as Yilgarn Avenue, furthermore the new airport when it has an operational air traffic control tower, with have control of all air traffic, to both airport runways.
With the approvals now in place, I employed the local earthmoving contractors to begin work on building the main runway and the taxiway to the east of it, which can be used by both runways and this job, would take approximately 8 months to complete, with it now being spring that gave them nearly eight months of clear weather.
While this was happening, a second team was working on installing 300 metres of extra heavy-duty culverts, capable of withstanding the heavy aircraft landing on them. Two days later the news was out about the airport, with the front page of the local community newspaper.
“NORTHAM TO GET A LARGE COMMERCIAL AIRPORT,” were the headlines, “Council minutes of this weeks Shire council meeting, show that the full council gave approval for the construction of a 2,700 metre long airport runway, to be built just west of the current airport runway, and will include a taxiway between them.
It is understood that representatives of the council visited the site two weeks ago, and met with the company that is building the airport. We have learnt that this development company known as XDSI are the owners of the light industrial sheds on nearby Gillett Road and Goomalling Road.
XDSI is also owners of the large shed that has been completed just 180 metres west of the current airport boundary, with the access road and entry gate located next to the access road to the Northam Airport, on Goomalling Road. It is believed that this building is what the council representatives visited two weeks ago, which will be the main airport terminal. We contacted the shire for any comment, but they declined to make a statement at this time.”
I had been making twice weekly trips to Northam to monitor the project, and picked up a copy of the newspaper, when I stopped in town for a bite too eat before heading home, and I left it on the coffee table fro Wyatt to read when he gets a chance.
“Sir, I have an email from the Northam CEO for you,” Wyatt said when he entered the lounge where I was relaxing after my half day trip to Northam. “Oh, I see you have been in the local papers, I presume Mr Sebastian hasn’t seen it yet,” Wyatt said when he spotted the paper and picked it up, after handing me the email.
“I wouldn’t bet on it,” I commented, before beginning to read the email. “Mr Devonport. Just to let you know that we have had conversations with a few local members of the Northam District Chamber of Commerce and all of them have had positive response to the news of the airport.
We have also have been doing a bit of research, and we would like to ask if you would be prepared to pay for half of an extension of the current runway, to make it 350 metres long to the south, and 150 metres longer to the north and making it wider for larger aircraft.
This would mean the current runway would extend onto your property, but we are hopeful that this will be beneficial to you and the community. The local indigenous community would also like to have some input in some way with your project, so we invite you to attend an informal gathering with our indigenous community.”
I had just finished reading when the house telephone rang and Wyatt went to answer it. “Yes sir he is here, and he is expecting your call, one moment please,” I heard Wyatt say into the phone as he walked towards me with a big grin on his face. “It seems that you are right in your earlier comment Mr Xander,” Wyatt said to me as he handed over the phone.
I spent the next twenty minutes on the phone talking to Sebastian, filling him in on the progress of the project, I also mentioned the email that I had just received, and Sebastian said that he would help to fund the extension of the current runway, and the new one, which I was pleased to hear.
The next day the news of a second large airport close to Perth broke within the rest of the state, and I was soon swamped by phone calls, been transferred from my office in East Perth to my mobile, and one of those calls was from the State’s Premier.
“Mr Premier, how may I assist you today?” I asked as I accepted the call, “Mr Devonport, I believe you are the same development company that has brought us the unusual half size tower near the causeway in East Perth?” the Premier asked me.
“Yes sir, that is correct, XDSI is my company, and in partnership with my parent company of Wagner International Corporation, we are building this bigger airport in Northam, to assist with coping with the increase of air traffic coming into Western Australia,” I replied.
“I see, and you have the full support of the Northam Shire Council?” the Premier asked, “Yes sir I do, I have already built a number of sheds along my boundary. This is to facilitate better transport services from the airport and from the Eastern states, as it is located right next to the Great Eastern Highway, just out of town,” I replied.
“Well you have indeed thought this through a lot, so how far away are you from completing this project?” the Premier asked, “Approximately eight months sir, the terminal building is already built.
Once it is fitted out, and once the main runway and the extension to the second runway, which is the existing runway, along with a central taxiway are all completed, and it has been certified by Air Services Australia, then we will be open for business,” I replied.
“I would like to come and have a look at what you have built so far and see what the overall plan will look like, can we arrange a time to inspect your project?” the Premier asked. “Yes sir that will be fine, just call my office again once you have a day and time, and we will be happy to arrange it for you,” I responded.
Just two days after that phone call, my administration manager informed me that the appointment for the government visit has been set for Thursday afternoon next week, which was good, as I had a meeting with the Indigenous community today, to discuss artwork for the Terminal Building.
By the end of the day, I had purchased a total of 32 paintings that are 3 metres long and 2 metres high, to be used to liven up the inside of the terminal, I had also commissioned an 8 by 6 metre painting, that will be the main centre feature piece for the upper foyer area of the terminal.
The Shire Council had also informed me, that they had been contacted by the Aero Club in regards to the control of the main airstrip, to be handed over to this new bigger airport. I was informed that the council had ensured them that with an operational air traffic control tower, the skies would be a lot safer in the region.
With plans to have a train station built to service the airport, I approached the local Northam Racing Club that is opposite the airport on the other side of the river, I offered to build them a second grandstand, located along the outside centre of the track, which will provide modern facilities for patrons, as well as for the jockey’s trainers and club staff.
I also offered to build sheltered stables for up to sixty horses, as well as a warm up arena, and a sealed parking area for the floats to offload the horses. In return, I would build a new and bigger train station that will be near the new stadium.
Just over 850 metres to the north at the Kunine Rail Siding, a second railway station will be located, with a ramp and stairs overpass from the station over the rail line and river to the west side of the smaller runway, where a 750 metre undercover pedestrian walkway leads to the terminal.
With an existing Avonlink train service from Northam to Midland, that is a distance of 98 kilometres and takes 80 minutes to travel by train, and I am hoping that the State Government run train service will extend the additional 4 kilometres to the new airport train station.
When the day arrived for the State Government of the facilities, I had Jessica my office administrator come with Wyatt and myself up to Northam. We had brought with us some portable tables and chairs with us, with plans to get a local café to put on a bit of a morning tea for us, with an estimated 12 people coming to inspect the terminal.
With all of the new indigenous artwork now in place, the terminal was now looking a bit more homely, and since the Shire council visit, I had managed to get one more portable baggage conveyor, and the new recently developed security screening equipment was on order, and would be shipped to Perth by airfreight from Germany, as quickly as possible.
Meanwhile on the airside of the terminal, there are four boarding ramps that just need the added adjustable ramp to be added to the end, to suit the various aircraft heights, which will be put into place once the parking apron has been laid down.
When four vehicles appeared at the set time, there is a total of fifteen people that stepped out of the vehicles, and all but three of them were is suits, which made me wonder who they are, as the finishing touches were put to the snack buffet that had been laid out on one table.
Meanwhile the layout plans are spread out on the other two tables, and Jessica stood by the tables while Wyatt and I stood just inside the central doors to the terminal. “Good afternoon, and welcome to Northam Terminal,” I said as the men and women approached us.
“I am Alexander Devonport, and this is my assistant, Wyatt,” I said to the leading man, who ended up being the Deputy Premier, and with him were the Minister for Transport, the Minister for Tourism, the Minister of Mining.
The three men casually dressed were introduced to me as representatives of a domestic airline company that transport FIFO workers to and from Perth, to various locations around the state. Most of the locations are five towns in the north-west and 5 mining sites in the same region and were interested in looking at using the new airport as their base for arrivals and departures, with fifteen flights in and fifteen flights out each day.
After looking at the layout plans and having some afternoon tea, and spending some time giving the visitors a tour of the terminal building, I was informed, that the Government would support the Shire of Northam with this new Airport to become Perth’s secondary airport. This depended on us getting certification from Air Services Australia, and the airline representatives stated that they were happy to use this airport as their base once it is operational.