Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bundaberg Airport - Gateway to the Fraser Coast Region of Queensland

Bundaberg Airport (known as ‘Bundaberg Regional Airport’) - YBUD/BDB - is located 6km South West of the Bundaberg CBD on North Childers Road and Takalvan Street.  The airport is owned and operated by the Bundaberg Regional Council.  The Bundaberg region enjoys a proud reputation in aviation, being the home of pioneer aviator Bert Hinkler.

Bundaberg Airport was officially opened as a civilian airport on 12 December 1931.  With the outbreak of World War II, it was decided, as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, to requisition Bundaberg Airport, and develop it as a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Flying Training School.  Known as RAAF Station Bundaberg, it was initially used in 1941 by No. 12 Elementary Flying Training School RAAF (12 EFTS), until 12 EFTS relocated to Lowood Aerodrome (located at Tarampa) in 1942. No. 8 Service Flying Training School RAAF then operated from the base.  Other RAAF Units operated from the Airport, and it also played host to Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force Personnel and equipment pool in 1945/1946.

After the War, The Department of Civil Aviation took over Bundaberg Aerodrome in 1947. Bundaberg City Council took over the airport in 1983, and a new terminal was opened in 1986.

Passenger services to Bundaberg Airport are currently operated by one commercial airline, QantasLink, while a number of private charter operators fly into Bundaberg on regular Fly-in Fly-out (FIFO) charters and other charters to nearby Lady Elliot Island on the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

Over the years, Flight West Airlines, Air Queensland, Majestic Airlines, and Lloyd Aviation have all operated into Bundaberg.

QantasLink currently flys between Brisbane and Bundaberg with approximately 27 services per week, operated by a mix of Dash-8-Q300 and Dash-8-Q400 aircraft.  Q400 Next Gen VH-LQJ was recently photographed touching down on Runway 14.

Seair (Seair Pacific) is one of the largest scenic charter flight operators in Southern Queensland, specialising in charter daytrips to Lady Elliot Island - a true coral cay on the Great Barrier Reef.  Seair currently flys Cessna 208 Caravans and Britten-Norman BN-2A Islanders to Bundaberg Airport 2-3 times per day.  Cessna 208 VH-VCW is a recent Seair acquisition and was photographed as it prepared to load passengers for a recent morning transfer to Lady Elliot Island.

According to various reports, Virgin Australia has looked at establishing a new service to Bundaberg.  Locals have been lobbying the airline to commence services to and from the airport to break the Qantas monopoly on all services to and from the airport.  Virgin did fly their (at the time new) Skywest Airlines-operated ATR 72-500 VH-FVH into Bundaberg in 2011 for the Wide Bay International Airshow.  The Wide Bay International Airshow is a (usually) biennial event at Bundaberg Airport.  However, the next Airshow has recently been postponed until 2014.

To encourage commercial expansion at the Airport, the Bundaberg Regional Council conducted major works at Bundaberg Airport between 2009 and 2010, with work completed on the main runway 14/32, navigation aids, and the airport terminal and carpark.

Paid parking was introduced, with charges starting at $2 for more than 2 hours, while the passenger drop-off and pick-up areas were extended.

The terminal area has been expanded (certainly from the last time I was there!) and features three buildings each for check-in, departures waiting area, and arrivals with baggage claim carousel and hire car desks.  Each of these buildings are joined by covered walkways.

The departure area is in two sections, one with a kiosk, and the other through a security check-point.

General Aviation (GA) plays an important role at Bundaberg Airport, with the long established base of iconic manufacturing firm Jabiru Aircraft, and the bases of MicroAir Avionics and CAMit Industries all on the recently established Bundaberg Regional Aviation and Aerospace Precinct at the Airport.  Jabiru aircraft are quite a common sight, although in general, photography of aircraft in the substantial GA Areas is limited.


Regional Aerial Emergency Services also have their headquarters at Bundaberg Airport, with facilities housing a base for the Royal Flying Doctors Service (RFDS) and the AGL Action Helicopter Rescue Service.

A great couple of days at Bundaberg Airport - stay tuned to the CQ Plane Spotting Blog for a Historic Post featuring some "Beauties from Bundaberg".

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