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Federal Government gives Townsville Airport go ahead for international flights

written by australianaviation.com.au | February 9, 2015

An aerial shot of Townsville Airport.
An aerial shot of Townsville Airport. (Seth Jaworski)

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.


Comments (11)

  • Random


    I’m not sure what the attraction is of Bali as a destination from Townsville (given it is also a hot tropical beach location). Surely a hot/cold connection like NZ (the northern hemisphere has a vast array of services based on travellers wanting a change of climate) or a hub connecting service like Singapore or KL would generate more 2 way traffic of a better diversity.

  • Chuck


    Agree. There would seem to be considerable commonsense in connecting Townsville with both NZ and Singapore / KL, or even Hong Kong / China. Admittedly HK / China would currently be a huge stretch without one of the airlines either equipping with a B737-900ER class of aircraft operating at max range or committing to A330 services.

    It would seem that success for Townsville as an international airport this time around will rely on a shrewdly selected and marketed network of destinations, which can generate on-going traffic in both directions. I just can’t see Bali sustaining that in isolation – it must be part of a well-considered network of direct destinations from Townsville.

  • Mike


    I think the main market for TSV will be China, plus SIN for connections to other places and maybe seasonal to AKL.

  • Craigy


    Qantas used to fly international out of Townsville. First I think they did B747Sp flights to LA. Later SIN DAR, TVL AKL using B742 and replacing it with B762 aircraft. I don’t think it was a profitable route.

  • Chris


    Townsville Airport has gone International before without success. Cairns is too close for the population and tourists in FNQ to sustain. Strategic Air did operate A330 ADF charters but the 2.44kmx45m main runway is 300m too short for MTOW departures. An extension of 600-900m NE appears possible to match Cairns but airlines would have to differentiate destinations and services to attract operators. Cairns could obviously replicate any new innovative product out of Townsville.
    Provision of Border Control Services with a combined ADF included or led operation is problematic from a conflict of interest perspective. When the ADF operates beyond our EEEZ they pose just as great an AFMA, AQIS, AFP and ACS role risk as others transiting the border. The ADF are also likely to turn a blind eye to abuses by Allies and Defence Contractors. BCS should at least operate on a Cost Recovery Basis. Personally I think it is desirable in a ADF heavy place like Townsville that BCS personnel live and work elsewhere until International movements justify a permanent presence.

  • Chuck


    @Craigy – You’re right, but Townsville is considerably bigger and the airline fleets are rather different from 25 years ago when 747/767 dominated all international routes including closer regional routes. B737/A321 based routes (particularly NEO versions), using the increasing ER capabilities of these single aisle jets (that used to be the preserve of B757 and little else) should make centres like Townsville entirely viable for international regional routes. 4000nm range for these single aisle jets gives the range / payload combination that 747/767 could never viably achieve.

  • marc


    Townsville’s best bet is connecting to Singapore (for onward Euro & Asia) and perhaps Auckland. There’s very little market for inbound.

  • Keigo Namba


    So now Townsville gone international,,, what happen to Avalon airport at Melbourne,,, has it got approval yet by the federal government and they been talking it so long.

    So far nothing is happening and the airport will be shutdown once Jetstar pull out.
    Is it political issue on Avalon Airport against Melbourne Airport , isn’t all of us are one state and one people of Australia.

    Has the government looking into it or they just talk and talk about past 10 years. One of the slowest government I ever known, not know how to modernise the city and create jobs and tourism to the state of Victoria.

  • Random


    @ Marc – I disagree that there is little inbound market for TVL, but you’d have to think that Bali would be the least promising option for inbound traffic amongst potential destinations including NZ, Sing, KL, and HK. Not sure why Jetstar, AirAsia (and previously Strategic) are all wedded to the idea of a Bali link first in preference to other destinations.

  • Taurean Lea


    SUPRISE!!!!!! TSV are getting International flights and it is flippin great news for the whole region, but nobody knows which airline and which routes will be the first to start.

  • Glenn Lowry


    There was Air New Zealand from New Zealand to Townsville stop over to Singapore in the 1980s.
    I flew it and was BRILLIANT ! Townsville was 70.000 pop then.
    Now that link would fill many planes with so many New Zealanders living in a 200.000 plus city.
    Then there is the KIWIS flying into sunny Townsville over the winter months.
    Townsville badly needs the international links .
    It is the Capitial of north Queensland.

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