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Townsville Airport approved for $50M NAIF Loan

Townsville Airport

Townsville Airport investment welcomed

Townsville Airport received welcome news. A $50 million loan application from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) has been approved.

The Minister for Northern Australia, Senator Matt Canavan announced the NAIF Boards decision to fund the airport redevelopment plans. The plans include doubling the terminal capacity, improved road access and an expansion of the apron to accommodate more aircraft parking.

As part of the airport’s “Project Alive” redevelopment, new boarding gates, an expansion of security gates and more self check-in and bag drop equipment will be installed.

“As the largest city in Northern Australia, Townsville is the gateway for many who travel to Northern Australia.” Mr Canavan said.

The redevelopment project will support 207 construction jobs and 50 operational jobs when completed.

Townsville commercial interests

Townsville Enterprise welcomed the funding announcement saying; “The redevelopment will provide the Townsville North Queensland community a world-class airport they can be proud of and a welcoming and seamless experience for visitors.”

“For Townsville North Queensland to continue to prosper and attract new visitors and business, the first and final impressions of our city, primarily delivered through the airport, are pivotal in providing even more reasons to visit and invest in the region.”

Townsville Airport’s existing economic footprint contributes $420 million to the economy and supports 3,000 jobs.

Since the last terminal upgrade in 2003, passenger movements have grown by 80 percent.

Townsville-based Senator Ian MacDonald said the NAIF loan is a “shot in the arm” for the region.

“Now more than ever, families and businesses in the Townsville region need some good news, and a major construction project to support existing jobs and create new ones is very good news indeed.” Senator MacDonald said.

NAIF loan second for Townsville

The $50 million NAIF loan is the second loan approved by the Board in the Townsville region. James Cook University also received approval of $96 million loan for a new Technology Innovation Complex at it’s Townsville campus.

The total funding supplied by the NAIF in Queensland to date is $623 million. Across Northern Australia, including the Northern Territory and Western Australia, the NAIF has committed to 10 investments with 3 receiving conditional approval valued at approximately $1.3 billion.

Castle Hill lifestyle development attracts Federal funding  

Townsville Airport is owned by Queensland Airports Limited (QAL) and is the 11th busiest airport in Australia.

Economic leadership challenges

QAL has been in dispute with QANTAS who is unwilling to place a $3 levy on airline tickets to assist with funding airport improvements. Negotiations between QANTAS and QAL are continuing.

QAL CEO Chris Mills said “all airline partners would pay their fair share to use the upgraded redevelopment.”

Despite the efforts of governments, QAL and business leaders have been appealing for more visitors to Townsville. International flights to Bali and Singapore via Port Moresby were introduced. Insufficient international visitor numbers caused carriers Jetstar and Air New Guinea to abandon their Townsville routes.

In 2011, Strategic Airlines also abandoned flights to Bali due the lack of passenger numbers. Last year, TigerAir cancelled its direct flights to Melbourne.

When the Jetstar flights were cancelled bv QANTAS last year, Senator Ian MacDonald called for the resignation of Townsville Airports boss and Townsville Enterprise (TEL) Chairman Kevin Gill.

TEL CEO Patricia O’Callaghan said at the time, “Its not about simply marketing, its much deeper than that. We need to keep going and keep analysing new routes. It does definitely impact our brand and we’re going to have to work harder.”, Ms O’Callaghan said.

Historical perspective of passenger inflows

At its peak, Townsville Airport welcomed 150,700 passengers in August 2018.

Late last year, the Queensland government announced temporary relief for Townsville Airport’s falling passenger numbers by subsidising two flights per week with AirNorth from Darwin via Townsville to the Gold Coast.

Townsville domestic passenger inflows have been steadily declining.

In 2012, inflows were 803,000. By the end of 2017, annual passenger numbers had dropped to 709,000. International visitors have dropped to zero from 23,000 per annum in 2017. All international carriers have now left the market.

The three year project works on the Townsville Airport redevelopment are scheduled to begin later this year with the terminal refurbishments starting in 2020.

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Aaron M, Editior
Aaron is the founder and editor of TREN eMagazine with 15 years experience in the real estate industry investing and helping investors seek value, leverage value and capitalise on value, developing professional and technical skills and capabilities that have enabled his success in business from startups, adoption, asset growth, management and community leadership projects. Aaron also loves travelling, sports, his partner Jodie and helping people discover their "why" and find their few "what's" in life that realise the "wows. The " www" in is one of his why, what and wow's that strive to add valuable content and analysis for readers to participate and win.

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