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Mayor Andrew Willcox said council today approved an Expressions of Interest (EOI) for the design and construction of the Whitsunday Coast Airport runway upgrade designed to renew an aging asset and also cater for future growth.
“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.
“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.
“It is important to stress that any loan will not be funded by general rates so there is no impact on Whitsunday Region ratepayers.”
Mayor Willcox said council has 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.
“During last year’s State Government Country Cabinet meeting in Proserpine, Premier Palaszczuk threw her support behind our long term strategic approach towards delivering sustainable international operations at the airport.
“In 2016 council’s proactive collaborations resulted in Jetstar and Tigerair introducing new routes and also adding extra flights on established routes 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.
“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,” he said.