Jan 31, 2017

Council gets ball rolling on $24.5m airstrip upgrade

Council gets ball rolling on $24.5m airstrip upgrade

Whitsunday Regional Council is seeking Expressions of Interest (EOI) to design and construct a runway upgrade for the Whitsunday Coast Airport near Proserpine.

“The $24.5 million project is in the airport business strategic plan approved by this Council and was the result of a strategic workshop I initiated shortly after election,” Mayor Andrew Willcox said.

“We are in discussions with the State Government for co-funding opportunities and also the Queensland Treasury Corporation in terms of loans with the debt repayments constrained within the airport business unit.”

Cr Willcox said the council had taken a diligent and measured approach to ensuring the airport will have the future capacity for increased flights.

“The Route Development Working Group, which I chair and consists of council, the Department of State Development, Tourism Whitsundays and Tourism Whitsundays, has completed unprecedented business case studies and scenario analysis so we can deliver long term sustainable airport growth,” he said.

He said Jetstar and Tigerair had introduced new routes and added extra flights on established routes during 2016 to make Whitsunday Coast Airport the only regional airport south of Townsville with direct flights into Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

“That is 240,000 extra domestic visitor seats annually which will bring more than $160 million in increased economic spend within the Whitsunday Region,” he said.

General Manager Whitsunday Coast Airports Ben Jones said with the region’s record visitor numbers last year it was vital to continue to develop the airport as a significant regional economic driver.

“The airport was originally designed and built to cater for only one movement at a time,” he said.

“To support the rapid increase in commercial flights council has developed concept designs that provides for the increase in visitors through the airport and plans on rolling out improvements to existing facilities over the next 18 months.

“Upgrading the runway for increased traffic and larger aircraft was identified as a fundamental necessity within the Airport’s Strategic Plan.”