Saturday, March 12, 2011

Rockhampton Airport Must Earn More Cash

The final bill for the impact of January’s floods on Rockhampton Airport could top $1.4 million.

Repairs to the runway, fences, perimeter road and other damage were likely to cost $700,000, while up to $700,000 in revenue was lost when it was closed for 24 days.

Only 10,258 passengers used it in January, an 81% reduction compared with the previous January.

Income from parking, airline fees and other commercial fees effectively dried up, leaving a big hole in the council’s budget.

The airport is budgeted to earn $10 million this financial year in total income and contribute $2.6 million to the council’s coffers after expenses and running costs to offset rates.

Mayor Brad Carter used a debate during yesterday’s Business Enterprise Committee to stress the need for the airport to make a bigger contribution to the council’s overall income.

He stated that he believed that the car parking fees are far too cheap at present, and that the Council is losing $100,000 a year by allowing airport users to park in Hunter Street.

Cr Carter is not in favour of selling the airport but would like to establish a clear direction to increase the Airport’s financial returns.

Councillors will soon be asked to decide which business model to adopt for the airport, effectively a choice between further commercialisation and corporatisation in which an independent board of directors would take over day-to-day operation.

Councillors were also asked to consider a leasing deal, similar to the one at Gracemere Saleyards.

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