Townsville Airport will be able to accept scheduled international flights from the start of March after the federal government agreed to support passenger processing at the North Queensland gateway.
The federal government says there has been an “in-principle agreement of the National Passenger Processing Committee to facilitate international services at Townsville Airport”.
“Queensland Airports Ltd has already commenced talks to secure the first international air services into Townsville,” a government joint statement said on Saturday.
“There have been expressions of interest from a couple of airlines in actually commencing services, but it’s been a barrier that there were no border protection services available,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure Warren Truss said in Townsville on Saturday.
“Now, we don’t actually have formal applications yet from any airlines to operate services into Townsville, but the fact that these essential support services are now available will certainly attract the attention of airlines and we have had positive responses from a couple of likely operators into Townsville, and I hope, therefore, the services can commence into this city as quickly as possible.”
The Townsville Bulletin reported on January 28 the Department of Immigration and Border Protection had proposed charging $90 per international passenger at the airport, given the increased costs of flying staff to the city.
This was higher than the $55 charge levied at other international airports, the newspaper said.
Both AirAsia and Jetstar have expressed an interest to offer international services from Townsville.
The federal member for Herbert Ewen Jones, who had lobbied for government support for passenger processing charges for international flights to Townsville, said on his Facebook page it was “great news for our city and region”.
Townsville Airport has had international flights in the past, most recently with the now defunct Strategic Airlines flying to Denpasar.