Air­port ex­pan­sion spreads wings for in­dus­try

$347 mil­lion up­grade means the sky’s the limit not just for tourism and busi­ness, but opens up flights for pri­mary in­dus­try too

Sold On Sunshine Coast - - Market Review -

THE $347mil­lion ex­pan­sion of the Sun­shine Coast Air­port is set to de­liver ben­e­fits to the tourism in­dus­try and busi­ness but also open up di­rect flights for pri­mary in­dus­try ex­ports.

The much-an­tic­i­pated ex­pan­sion, that in­cludes a new run­way and ter­mi­nal, is now 700-odd sleeps away.

The new 2450m long by 45m wide east-west run­way will be ca­pa­ble of ser­vic­ing air­craft such as the A330, B787 and B777. It will bring changes to airspace and flight paths, nav­i­ga­tion aids as well as res­cue and emer­gency ser­vices.

The mas­sive works pro­gram will in­clude dredg­ing of up to 1.1 mil­lion cu­bic me­tres of sand for fill from Spit­fire Re­align­ment Chan­nel at More­ton Bay.

“The sky’s the limit,” air­port CEO Peter Pal­lott said at the Friend­ship Ave of­fices at Mar­coola.

John Hol­land Group was awarded the $225 mil­lion con­struc­tion con­tract in March.

The project is ex­pected to cre­ate 2200 jobs on the Coast and re­turn $4.1 bil­lion to the econ­omy over the next 20 years.

Mr Pal­lott can jus­ti­fi­ably feel proud of the fact it has been Aus­tralia’s fastest grow­ing air­port since July 2015 with more than one mil­lion pas­sen­gers in 2016/17 – an 11 per cent in­crease year on year and the high­est recorded pas­sen­ger num­bers for a 12-month pe­riod. It is also Aus­tralia’s first car­bon neu­tral air­port un­der the Air­port Car­bon Ac­cred­i­ta­tion pro­gram.

The Sun­shine Coast was crowned a win­ner in the Routes Asia 2017 Mar­ket­ing Awards in Ok­i­nawa, Ja­pan, for mar­ket­ing cam­paigns and route de­vel­op­ment achieve­ments.

And in an­other sig­nif­i­cant step it was named the Asia-Pa­cific Small Air­port of the Year in the CAPA Asia Pa­cific Avi­a­tion Awards for Ex­cel­lence held in Sin­ga­pore. This was in the cat­e­gory for air­ports with up to 10 mil­lion pas­sen­gers for per­for­mance and strong in­dus­try lead­er­ship dur­ing the past 12 months. The cat­e­gory in­cluded air­ports such as Ade­laide, Gold Coast and Cairns.

It has been a cracker in terms of pas­sen­ger growth, Mr Pal­lott said, with one mil­lion pas­sen­gers last year.

“Qan­tas is pro­vid­ing busi­ness flights, Vir­gin also. Off the back of all that work we have grown 12 per cent.

“Num­bers for the new year are look­ing re­ally strong from the vis­i­tor and out­bound mar­ket.

The high­est pri­or­ity is to get flights north … that’s some­thing we want, we need.”

Pal­isade In­vest­ment Part­ners is the com­mer­cial part­ner of Sun­shine Coast Coun­cil to op­er­ate the as­set un­der a 99-year lease.

“That is a re­ally sig­nif­i­cant step in the process that started 10-12 years ago in ma­tur­ing the air­port into a busi­ness that was a de­sir­able com­mod­ity, that had eq­uity value,” Mr Pal­lott said.

“The 15-year mas­ter plan has been de­liv­ered in 10 years. That added value to it be­ing a re­ally de­sir­able in­vest­ment.

“The lease will fund the new run­way, the fo­cus of the 2007 mas­ter­plan.”

Mr Pal­lott said one of the proud­est mo­ments for the air­port to date was the land­ing of the first in­ter­na­tional flight by Air New Zealand.

“We are now in the sixth sea­son with di­rect flights to and from Auck­land. The pas­sen­gers have voted with their feet.”

Jet­star flight on the run­way for take-off at Sun­shine Coast Air­port.

PHO­TOS: ERLE LEVEY / CON­TRIB­UTED

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