Darwin Airport and RAAF Base Darwin are this week officially commencing a $200 million runway works program to better support military and civilian traffic to 2040.
Starting 15 August, runway length at Darwin will be reduced, with no impact expected on airline operations. From 9 October to 30 November, the main runway will be closed between 2am and 11:30am, with regional airline traffic to use the second runway if required.
Major airline traffic, however, will be unable to use the cross runway, as it does not have lighting for night operations and is neither long nor strong enough to support jet airliners.
The news has provided clarity to airlines such as Jetstar, which paused sales of Darwin–Denpasar flights in July amid uncertainty over the scheduling of the works. In a statement, a Jetstar spokesperson confirmed that the airline has now cancelled all flights between Darwin and Bali between 9 and 28 October.
“We are contacting customers who are booked to travel during the three-week works period to discuss their options, including indirect flights via another port, a travel credit, or a refund to their original form of payment,” the spokesperson said.
“We know this will be disappointing and frustrating for affected customers and we thank them for their understanding.”
The works are slated to cease during the wet season before resuming in April 2024, with an updated schedule for 2024 works to be released in October this year.
“The method of work program is now finalised, enabling airlines to review impacts and provide certainty to the travelling public,” said Tony Edmondstone, CEO of Darwin Airport’s civilian operator Airport Development Group.
“Air connectivity is crucial for Territorians and these works are essential to support the safe and efficient operation of the airport for the next couple of decades.
“Airport Development Group recognises the disruption that this project will cause, and will work with airlines to rearrange flight schedules to maintain connectivity for Territorians and visitors alike.”
Air Commodore Ron Tilley, director general capital facilities and infrastructure at Defence, said RAAF Base Darwin’s runway is a “vital military asset”, and that the works are important to enable future operations.
“The works at Darwin Airport will also support investment into the Northern Territory economy, costing approximately $200 million and with an average daily workforce of between 60-90 personnel,” he said.
“The Darwin airport works are being sequenced to minimise the impact on tourism and the local community during peak travel periods, including the school holidays.”