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Flights resume from Cairns as runway cleared of flood debris

written by Jake Nelson | December 19, 2023

Works were underway following severe flooding to clear the runway at Cairns Airport of debris. (Image: Cairns Airport)

Cairns Airport has reopened for traffic after clearing floodwaters and debris from its runway.

In an update on Tuesday morning, the airport confirmed its runway is “clear and serviceable” following the severe flooding in the wake of Cyclone Jasper that left aircraft partially underwater and forced the aerodrome to close for the second time in four days.

“We met with our airline partners and other key stakeholders a short time ago. Passenger flights will recommence at Cairns Airport this morning,” the airport’s statement read.

“Airlines are determining their own flight operations and schedules. Please contact your airline directly for information about specific flights.”

Flights on Tuesday morning included Skytrans service QN42 to Bamaga and Horn Island, as well as an arriving Rex flight from Townsville, ZL5418, and Qantas flight QF708 from Brisbane.


Speaking to reporters on Monday afternoon, Cairns Airport CEO Richard Barker said no airport infrastructure had been damaged.

“I’m incredibly proud of the team and various partners who have come together to pull around an amazing effort to actually deliver an operational runway at a critical time of year leading into the busiest week, being Christmas,” he said.

“This weekend is going to be the busiest weekend of our year, so we’re throwing everything at it. We know the airlines are planning hard. Our agency partners are working really hard. It’s been a huge community team effort to get this airport open again.

“We’re expecting that, for both visitors to our region and people here in our region who want to connect with family and friends for Christmas … [we’ll] be able to get them there.”

The airport was closed ahead of Jasper making landfall on 13 December, and while it subsequently reopened, the continued heavy rains from the storm system forced it to close again over the weekend. It was hit by 309mm of rain in 24 hours, with floods surpassing 1977 levels and resulting in dramatic images on social media of partially submerged aircraft.

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