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Sunshine Coast Airport looking for more international routes

written by australianaviation.com.au | October 28, 2016

Jetstar flight at Sunshine Coast Airport
Passengers boarding a flight at Sunshine Coast Airport.

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.

An Air NZ Airbus A320 at Sunshine Coast Airport with Mt Coolum in the background. (Sunshine Coast Airport)
An Air NZ Airbus A320 at Sunshine Coast Airport with Mt Coolum in the background. (Sunshine Coast Airport)

Comments (13)

  • Anil Kattula


    Great news for the region but we all know very unlikely Qantas or Virgin will start international flights. Appalling that we have to leave services to regional airports to foreign operators. Expect Air Nz will become a regular scheduled service.

  • deano


    I don’t know why the likes of REX or JetGo wouldn’t have a go from the sunny coast
    Just to name a few
    They would do well as locals HATE the trek to BNE

  • Anil Kattula


    Agree with you Deano. How about air north grabs virgins unwanted Embraer 190s and uses them on the routes you suggested. Could even fly sunshine coast to new Zealand as have international operating certification. ( fly Darwin to Dili). There is plenty of potential waiting for someone to seize it!

  • That Ron guy


    Very impressive for MCY. I was there just last week on a flight from Sydney & back in the same day. If they’re now an international airport, they need an international restaurant – McDonalds! The cafe there is a bit pricey (aren’t they all!). But yes, I echo the sentiment above – Jetgo needs to get in there with their sexy little Embraer jets & start joining the dots between other regionals. The only question would be the price – Jetstar can do SYD – MCY for $79 on a good day. I fear the fares on a smaller operator would be double that.

    Is this a step closer to Clive Palmer’s dream of A380’s landing there?

  • Teddy


    Another significant regional airport screaming out for more dedicated direct services, and a fair crack at international route expansion. Hobart, Canberra, Newcastle, Sunshine Coast and Townsville – the ports Australia’s airlines would seemingly prefer to ignore. The airlines would probably need new classes of metal for these hub-busting smaller yield domestic and international services. Airnorth and JetGo have started to move into this space domestically which suggests there is a valid market and that these cities might have a fair case. Potential international routes from these airports really need a modern equivalent of the B757 – vast intercontinental range with a smaller pax load. Will be interesting to see if Boeing and Airbus look to position NG aircraft (B737 / A320 or something altogether new) into the B757 envelope.

  • Harrison Grohn


    I agree Sunshine coast needs Airlines such as REX, Jet Go, and Air North… Which are just a few… Because these airlines can hold about 50 Passengers on average and the sunshine coast would benefit… Compared to the usual… Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide which started in September.

  • deano


    On a bit of a negative note
    I really don’t see where they think they will attract international flights from
    Right now they at best get 3-4 flights a week from Auckland, this could end up an all year round service instead of seasonal
    Perhaps seasonal Queenstown for the snow lovers…
    I would not think that FIJI, Bali or even Hong Kong or Singapore would get enough bums on seats

    Canberra is a no brainer because flying for 1.5 hours then driving 1.5 hours is not a great way to get to the sunny coast
    Newcastle has great potential with 10% the population of Sydney one would assume 800 pax per day from Sydney would equal about 80 Novacastrians

    The likes of JetGo would need to think outside the box a bit to make Maroochydore a base
    MCY-CBR-HBA springs to mind
    One stop MCY-HBA
    With MCY-CBR and CBR-HBA sectors being sold as well

    Locals often fly north out of Brisvegas
    Cairns, Mackay, Rocky. Townsville, Hamilton Island etc
    Locals would cop a stop or 2, if it avoided the trek to BNE
    Much better 2 x 30 minute stops versus 1 1/2 hours car trip to Brisbane

    I think that airlines forget that there is a large population here on the coast that travel
    Sooooo many retirees…….
    So many business people
    But they seem to treat us as a tourist destination only
    Most here have come from somewhere else
    And not just Sydney and Melbourne
    And most head off to see old friends and relatives regularly
    I get that Qantas/Jetstar and Virgin/Tiger have no interest in adding more destinations as it would dilute Brisbane traffic and there would be small loads outside Sydney and Melbourne
    This is where JetGo and REX could step in as they don’t have these constraints and a fleet of smaller aircraft that would be the right size for the market
    JetGo are doing well hub-busting
    Airnorth are too tied up with Qantas
    REX, well who knows with REX, I don’t get their business model, they have a large network of regional routes, but don’t seem to want to link them and offer seamless transfers across their network, just stupid IMO, that said, they could also fit the bill by running one of their Cairns-Townsville services to Maroochy as a first step to test the water

    Come on REX, JetGo, the sunny coast is crying out for you……

  • grahame deacon


    I am a regular user of this airport, I support the expansion, however the services provided need to improve significantly. I recently flew in from NZ and counted a dozen border control officers, they were not ready for a flight that arrived on schedule, only 1 laptop out of 4 was working and we in the queue concluded only one officer knew what they were doing. The new security screening set up is a shambles, the short conveyor has no room for more than one persons bags – “security officer” says to me please hurry up and move your bags there are other people to come through!!! The previous comments about the shops are very valid, very over priced for sub standard food offerings and service.
    QANTAS are charging a premium because of the demand for their monopoly morning & evening “business” flights MCY-SYD-MCY, would dearly love to see Virgin match the service and provide some competition.

  • Dee Thom


    Some comments bring back memories of “Bushie’s” flights in the early 80’s, flying a F/27 200 Friendship on the CNS/BNE milk run three times a week. A great way to travel north to Bundy, Rockie, and most stops to Cairns.
    Maybe REX, or similar could use a 40 seat turbo prop from say the Goldie, or Wellcamp, overfly BNE to MCY, then selected stops to CNS. Great for pax, and light freight.

  • Harrison Grohn


    Hey Deano,

    I don’t think that Queenstown would have direct flights to Sunny coast before the Expansion because Air New Zealand would not be making Money on the run. But with the Expansion would be a lot more Intl.

  • deano


    Harrison I would be interested to know where you think there would be a market for other international flights
    Auckland, from any Australian international airport, is the number 1 destination (bums on seats)
    As I said above, ANZ can not even justify a year round service, and seasonal, it’s only 3-4 days per week
    Therefore any other destination would struggle to sustain a viable service

    Again, there is plenty of scope to add hub-busting services from here and I have outlined some routes and reasons above

  • Harrison Grohn


    Hey, Yeah.. Well at the moment there can not be any other options (with Bums on seats) But once the new runway is done… there will be more choice!! Scoot are planning on coming to YBSU in 2020.

  • Andrew


    We need flights north. Townsville is my preference.

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