The Proserpine / Whitsunday Coast Airport is off to a "flying start" with the newly refurbished terminal and carpark facilities officially opened on late last year, in plenty of time for the busy Christmas holiday period.
An opening ceremony was led recently by acting premier Andrew Fraser, tourism minister Jan Jarratt and Whitsunday Council mayor Mike Brunker. The Airport business development manager remarked that the airport was "basically a brand new facility overall, but with utilisation of the previous structure".
I can tell you personally that this new facility is very modern and very appealing to the traveller. When I recently passed through the Airport, the terminal was extremely busy with a delayed flight, as well as the flight I was about to catch. There would have been around 200 people in the new departures area including the café, and the new facilities handled this pressure fantasically well.
The new and improved features at the Airport include:
A much bigger departure lounge with a lot more passenger seating and two boarding gates
A new and improved check-in area
A new look café and bar including an tables and chairs
A new and refurbished and larger security screening check-point, as well as relocated and refurbished airport offices and the addition of Customs and Quarantine facilities to cater for potential international charters and carriers in the future.
However, for the Airport, the most important item that was added was the internal baggage collection carousel inside the terminal building. I can tell you personally, I much prefer the new air-conditioned comfort when collecting my bags, rather than standing outside in the tropical heat, or worse, rain!
The last part of the upgrade was to the carpark outside the terminal building. A much better organised facility has been constructed, with designated public drop-off and pick-up areas, as well as a separate area for busses and taxis. The general carpark has been expanded, and is still free, but as shown by the parking ticket machines installed in and around the terminal building, the proposed paid parking system isn’t too far away.
Now even though this $7 million upgrade to the Whitsunday Coast Airport may have only just taken off, plans to further expand the airport are already in flight mode.
The airport's business development manager was heard talking about master plans and runway extensions at the official opening as well. The Whitsunday Times reports that work has already reportedly begun on a master plan, which would outline further expansions involving transport, logistic and aviation training facilities.
There are plans to add another 1000m to the existing 2073m runway, thus allowing international aircraft to land. Hopes are that the recently completed upgrade has now made it possible for international charter flights to use the airport.