The state-owned China Southern Airlines partially owns Merredin Aerodrome, 260 kilometres east of Perth. It has control over the runways, hangars and the control tower.
The Chinese government company could soon own all of this country airport less than 25, after it secretly paid the West Australian government $1 for a 100-year lease. Entrepreneur Dick Smith, who is also a former chairman of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, said this was the first time a foreign power had owned an Australian airport. ‘It is outrageous that a native pilot can’t go to a country airport without getting approval from the Chinese to land there,’ he said.
China’s biggest airline presently owns half of Merredin Aerodrome and may soon own the entire airport, despite recently shutting down its pilot training school because of safety concerns.