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Fed Govt paves way for Qld airport to return international flights next year

The Federal Government has greenlit Townsville Airport’s Master Plan, which could see the airport bring back international services next year.

The Federal Government has greenlit Townsville Airport’s Master Plan, which could see the airport bring back international services next year.

Australia’s eleventh busiest hub, the North Queensland airport intends to expand its terminal and develop the surrounding precinct. 

But arguably the most exciting prospect for Townsville Airport would be the return of overseas flights in 2025, which would save travellers in the region from having to transit through Brisbane or Cairns to fly abroad. 

Once an international hub, Townsville Airport currently operates more than 400 flights a week, generating more than $400 million in revenue for the region and supporting over 2,500 full-time jobs. 

Airport hotel

Townsville Airport
Townsville Airport check-in

The Master Plan details the airport’s plans for the next two decades, emphasising the coming eight years.

As well as creating a new gateway precinct, the airport plans to develop an airport hotel along with modern retail, food and beverage offerings.

“The next twenty years will be a critical growth period for the Townsville North Queensland region, with a predicted population boom of 38 per cent set to see resident numbers soar to more than 325,000,” said Amelia Evans, CEO of Queensland Airports Limited (QAL), which operates the hub.

“We believe in the strength of the Townsville North Queensland region, which is why we’ve invested more than $22 million in upgrades over the past three years.”

The Queensland hub hasn’t seen scheduled international flights since Jetstar wrapped up its nonstop Townsville-Denpasar (Bali) service some six years ago. In March, Evans said that possible overseas destinations for the hub included Bali and perhaps even Singapore, where it has previously been linked.

Green growth

“Our 2023 Townsville Airport Master Plan will guide the strategic development of airport facilities, infrastructure and land usage over the next two decades, ensuring we’re in a position to support predicted passenger growth and deliver economically for the region,” she stated.

“We’re also on a journey to reach net zero by 2030, including new initiatives aimed at reducing emissions such as the installation of additional solar panels, energy efficient lighting and the purchase of electric vehicles.

“More broadly, we’re preparing for the transition to lower carbon aviation practices such as Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) with the recently announced production plant in Townsville set to be operational by as soon as 2026.”

Record start

Bali could become TSV’s first international destination.

Earlier this year, Townsville Airport General Manager Brendan Cook said the hub was looking to grow significantly over the next five years, with a tripling of passenger numbers predicted. 

The year started strongly for TSV, with February the busiest on record, Cook said.

Among the Australian airport’s recent and current upgrades are an enhanced check-in area, improved security (where devices like laptops could stay in your bag), new energy-efficient escalators, extra seating in the main dining area and a new overflow car park.