The Australian Government has released funding guidelines for its A$100m ($67m) Regional Airports Program for safety upgrades.

The announcement was welcomed by the Australian Airports Association (aaa) and follows its Protect Regional Airports campaign. It was announced in the 2019-20 federal budget.

To be completed over four years, projects eligible under this programme include runway, taxiway and animal fencing upgrades, as well as the purchasing of safety equipment.

AAA chief executive officer Caroline Wilkie said: “With so many regional airports struggling to make ends meet, access to funding for essential maintenance and upgrades will be a game changer for the regions.

“Our regional airports are the lifeblood of their communities and this funding will help them meet the needs of local people and businesses for years to come.

“This is an important step towards ensuring a strong, safe and vibrant regional airport network for the benefit of all Australians.”

A number of regional airports are currently experiencing budget deficits, which is expected to continue over the next ten years. This access to funding will bring relief to the A$170m ($115m) aeronautical infrastructure deficit.

Regional airports or aerodrome owners and operators can submit applications for the first funding round from 24 October to 12 December.

Wilkie added: “We know there are many regional airports waiting for funds to complete essential maintenance and upgrades to keep their airports safe and compliant over the long-term. This is a great opportunity to get those projects underway.”