Concept designs for the Rockhampton Airport masterplan.
Concept designs for the Rockhampton Airport masterplan.

MAYOR’S COLUMN: The future of Rockhampton Airport

AN AIRPORT is fundamentally in the aircraft landing and parking business.

We have a beautiful long runway – 2700 m.

One of the longest in regional Australia.

It is engineered to take the really big birds. And we do when the military come to visit.

Then there is the main apron area which adjoins the runway where we have six parking bays to handle regular passenger movements near the passenger terminal.

There has been a lot of focus on the airport’s passenger terminal of late.

Given the very significant changes being made - primarily to accommodate the new screening equipment - we will see a lot more about this facility in the media over the coming weeks.

At the northern end of the airport precinct is where our General Aviation (GA) is located and also the General Aviation Terminal.

Rockhampton Airport is also lucky enough to have a secondary runway known as the cross runway that allows smaller aircraft to land in prevailing winds.

General aviation is fundamentally private planes, usually owned for leisure or for company business purposes, the GA area also caters for businesses that service the GA community as well.

The General Aviation terminal is leased to the Rockhampton Aero Club on a long-term lease. They have a lounge area and a bar and a few other facilities for the GA community to use.

Surrounding their terminal are a small number of spaces for parking of small aircraft.

There are around 18 spaces near the GA terminal although we try to expand the area available to general aviation when Beef Australia is on.

The number of planes that can be accommodated also depends to some extent on the size of the planes.

There are also a number of private hangers and some hanger space which is council owned and controlled.

These hangers were built to provide owners of aircraft some undercover parking for their assets if required.

We are one of the cheapest airports for general aviation parking on the east coast of Queensland and offer a local reduced annual fee for locals within the Rockhampton Region.

Parking is $6.74 per day – with opportunity to negotiate pricing depending on length of stay.

Separately of course we have areas that set aside for military use at various times of the year.

And Council is actively working to build the opportunity for freight and for cold store.

I know we are all keen to see international flights.

Some time ago Council resolved to wipe landing fees for international tourism flights with Council also being willing to pay to bring in the necessary customs officers for a six month trial period.

At the time I said that it would be up to enterprising airlines or local tourism operators to put deals together.

And it’s not for want of trying or not for want of being willing but the reality is that the incentives that we can put on the table are fairly minor compared to the massive costs involved in passenger transport and the challenges of filling a large plane in and out of Rockhampton.

Through Advance Rockhampton we have ramped up tourism promotion for our region and the numbers are starting to show great results.

Of course we are all hoping that something will happen on Great Keppel Island soon too.

We really need both resorts operating for there to be any real demand for international flights through the airport.