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
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.