Nick Xenophon wants Qantas pilots to train in regional South Australia.
The SA-BEST leader says he'll ensure the next state government provide the airline with a financial incentive to set up a training base in Whyalla or Port Lincoln, if his party holds the balance of power after the March 17 election.
"The training staff, trainee pilots, support staff and ancillary staff would all live and work in the area, injecting millions of dollars a year into the local economy," Mr Xenophon said.
Last month Qantas announced plans to address the global pilot shortage by setting up what it said could eventually be the southern hemisphere's largest flight academy.
"Boeing estimates the world will need about 640,000 more pilots in the next 20 years, with 40 per cent in the Asia Pacific region," Chief executive Alan Joyce said last month.
He said the company would look not just at the financial incentive package offered by states but existing infrastructure when picking a location.
"Over time, we see the potential for the academy to become a competitive advantage for Australia in the region, it could train pilots for other airlines and grow into the largest academy of its kind in the southern hemisphere," he said.
The company plans to open the $20 million school in 2019 and train 500 pilots a year.
South Australia will face tough competition with Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner indicating his government would prepare a business case and mayors in far-north Queensland indicating they would also bid for the facility.
SA-BEST said an incentive for Qantas to come to SA would be similar to the $10 million offered to OZ Minerals to relocate their headquarters from Melbourne to Adelaide.
Australian Associated Press