De­cline high­lights re­gional strug­gle Drop in air trav­ellers

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - TONY RAGGATT tony. raggatt@ news. com. au

PAS­SEN­GER num­bers have fallen at Townsville, high­light­ing the chal­leng­ing con­di­tions in re­gional Queens­land, ac­cord­ing to owner Queens­land Air­ports Ltd.

QAL has re­ported its 2016- 17 fig­ures, show­ing to­tal pas­sen­ger num­bers fell 6383 or 0.4 per cent to 1.57 mil­lion at Townsville com­pared with the pre­vi­ous year.

At Mount Isa, also a QAL air­port, num­bers fell 2.4 per cent to 182,208.

They com­pare with an 11.5 per cent fall to 776,810 at Mackay, 5 per cent growth to 5.21 mil­lion at Cairns and 3.3 per cent growth to 6.48 mil­lion at the Gold Coast.

QAL CEO Chris Mills de­scribed the Townsville re­sult as flat and con­sis­tent with the chal­leng­ing busi­ness con­di­tions in many part of re­gional Queens­land.

How­ever he said the signs for the com­ing year were en­cour­ag­ing af­ter the re­cent start of new do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional ser­vices.

“The out­look for Townsville Air­port is pos­i­tive fol­low­ing the re­cent launch of ser­vices to Mel­bourne with Tig­erair, and Port Moresby with Air Ni­ug­ini,” Mr Mills said.

“The feed­back we’ve had from Tig­erair is that there’s been a sig­nif­i­cant amount of in­ter­est in that Mel­bourne route.”

Townsville was also the log­i­cal FIFO hub for ac­tiv­ity in the wider re­gion, Mr Mills said.

On plans for a $ 50 mil­lion up­grade to the Townsville ter­mi­nal, Mr Mills said he did not see the pas­sen­ger re­sults as a set­back.

He said the up­grade was over­due and that they were con­tin­u­ing dis­cus­sions with Qan­tas, which is re­sist­ing ap­ply­ing a $ 3 pas­sen­ger tax to help fund it.

They were ready to go ahead with the re­de­vel­op­ment “as soon as Qan­tas comes on board”, Mr Mills said.

He said Mount Isa Air­port recorded a mod­est de­cline but had five con­sec­u­tive months of growth lead­ing up to June.

He said QAL’s Lon­greach Air­port’s ap­par­ent fall of 11.6 per cent in pas­sen­ger num­bers to 32,231 was ex­ac­er­bated by a change in the way its tran­sit pas­sen­gers were recorded which, if ad­justed, would show slight growth year on year.

Dur­ing the year, QAL de­vel­oped a so­lar car park at Mount Isa, which gen­er­ates up to 94 per cent of the ter­mi­nal’s day­time en­ergy needs and at Lon­greach com­pleted a wildlife proof fence around the airstrip.

To­gether, the projects rep­re­sented an in­vest­ment of al­most $ 4 mil­lion.

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