Sunshine Coast Airport is looking to add more overseas services after being officially designated as an international airport.
Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester made the announcement at the airport on Friday.
Sunshine Coast Airport said the official designation means the airport, located about 100km north of Brisbane, would no longer have to seek annual approvals for Air New Zealand’s seasonal Auckland service, with border agency resourcing for these services “assured”.
“For the last five years, our international services have been approved on a season-by-season basis adding a layer of regulatory complexity and uncertainty to what has otherwise been a very successful partnership between the airport, airline and tourism bodies,” Sunshine Coast Airport General Manager Peter Pallot said in a statement on Friday.
“We are delighted that this complexity is now a thing of the past and we can focus on attracting future international services.”
In March, Sunshine Coast Airport said it planned to build a new runway as part of a $347 million expansion project.
The proposed 2,450m long and 45m wide runway, to be built in a north-west/south-east orientation (Runway 13/31) and operational by 2020, would better cater for existing narrowbody flights and be able to handle potential widebody operations.
The current runway, which is orientated north/south and measures 1,797m long by 30m wide, required airlines to operate “non-standard narrow runway” procedures, which included a reduced tolerance to cross winds, the airport’s expansion project documents said.
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said the formal designation and new runway would help attract new freight and passenger services from other destinations.
“Having Sunshine Coast Airport formally designated as Australia’s newest international airport further recognises the importance of giving international tourists direct access into regional Australia,” Mayor Jamieson said.
Chester said the designation would “provide opportunities to promote the area as a leisure and business destination to new foreign markets”.
“The potential to attract additional international services will complement Sunshine Coast’s impressive domestic traffic growth,” Chester said.
Figures from Sunshine Coast Airport showed it handled 964,362 passengers in 2015/16, up 13 per cent from the prior corresponding period and the highest total for a 12-month period in the airport’s history.