Decline highlights regional struggle Drop in air travellers
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.