Friday, December 31, 2010

Central Queensland Airports and Air Services Affected by Flooding

The recent devastating floods throughout Central Queensland have affected the regions airports and air services.

In Rockhampton, with the flooding of the Fitzroy River expected to reach its peak by Tuesday, Rockhampton Airport will cease normal domestic passenger (RPT) services on Saturday 1 January. It is expected that it will remain closed for 10 days.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service has reportedly evacuated their airport facilites, and flown their two locally based aircraft - Beech B200 King Airs VH-FDR and VH-FDW - to other airports in Queensland.

In terms of the airlines, QantasLink will operate their last flight on Saturday to Mackay at 11.10am; Virgin Blue will operate their last flight on Saturday to Brisbane at 1:45pm; and Tiger Airways will operate their last flight today (Friday) to Brisbane at 3:50pm.

The Rockhampton Regional Council has advised that all vehicles should be removed from the airport carparks, with the paid parking system being deactivated.

The Rockhampton Airport website - LINK - contains the latest information.

With the airport closing, the Rockhampton Regional Council has requested assistance from the Australian Army, with the possibility of Sikorsky S-70A Blackhawks arriving in Rockhampton to conduct evacuations and other duties.

Also, on Thursday 30 December, three Toll Priority metros were noted at Rockhampton Airport flying in tens of thousands of extra sandbags on delivery to the Central Region Emergency Management Group (EMG), who supply bags to SES volunteers. Meanwhile, on Friday 31 December, it was reported that aviation fuel supplies in Rockhampton were completely depleted, with a new supply having to be trucked to town. Local helicopter firms are also facing depleted stocks of the chopper fuel, with one firm believed to be trucking in Avgas from Townsville to continue operating.

In Emerald, passengers travelling into Emerald Airport are being advised to change their travel plans as Emerald Airport has been cut off from the main township since Thursday 30 December. The Local Disaster Management Group is monitoring incoming passengers from QantasLink services and if the majority of passengers have to be accommodated in emergency accommodation the LMDG will have no choice but to ask for services to be cancelled.

So with the airport inaccessible from the main township, emergency and privately owned helicopters are landing and taking off from the Pioneer Park Racecourse in the centre of Emerald.

It is believed that Australian Army Sikorsky S-70A Blackhawk helicopters were deployed from Townsville on Thursday 30 December to evacuate local residents to the airport.

It was also noted that Queensland Premier Anna Bligh visited the town Friday 31 December in the Queensland Governments Hawker 850XP Bizjet. She later overflew the town in one of the Blackhawks.

Also, it is beleived that Central Park Helicopters (of Springsure) Robinson R22, VH-PUG, crashed at the Emerald Racecourse on Thursday 30 December. The privately owned chopper reportedly lost control and flipped on its side shortly after taking off. The pilot was the only person on board and was not seriously hurt. Channel Seven News reporter Peter Doherty took this photo HERE

CQ Planespotting is thinking of those who have been affected by the flooding.

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