Whitsunday Airports

The Whitsunday Coast Airport is nowhere near the coast. If the cursed State government approve mining the airport for oil shale, then the airport probably won't even be in Whitsunday Shire. Even if you do fly in, the airport road is subject to flooding during the wet season, as is the Bruce Highway. This means beware of February, and surrounding months. If you do get stranded at the airport, remember there is no air conditioning, no place to sleep, no motels nearby, and the food service is part time. Jetstar airlines (known locally as Deathstar) have a reputation of just dumping passengers and tourists at the airport when there is a problem.

Whitsunday Coast Airport distant from Airlie Beach

Closest major airport on the mainland is well outside Proserpine. Much confusion is caused by airport and other names. The Whitsunday Shire Council has its headquarters in Proserpine, and was formerly called Proserpine Shire Council. They renamed Proserpine Airport, about 20 kms inland, and 30 kms from Airlie Beach, to Whitsunday Coast Airport, despite being nowhere near the coast. This is why your luggage tags have an airport designation of PPP, instead of something like WHI or WCA. If your travel agent can't find Whitsunday Coast Airport, tell them to look up Proserpine Airport.

During the long drive from the airport to Airlie Beach, look for farms with cattle, sugar cane, and at the main Bruce highway turnoff there is coffee growing. Also view a nice network of narrow gauge cane train tracks.

Is There an Airport in the Whitsundays?

There is, but not called Whitsunday Airport. The Whitsundays are really the 70 odd islands off the coast here. Most of the Whitsunday Islands are pristine National Parks, however a half dozen or so have resorts, land sales, and real estate agents. There is an airport for commercial flights actually in the Whitsunday Islands, namely Hamilton Island Airport. Hamilton Island is a major tourist destination. You can tell from the runway bisecting the island, from the ugly skyscrapers that disfigure the island, and the golf buggies that ate the place. Think Gold Coast on an island, except more expensive. From Hamilton Island tourists can get to the even more expensive and exclusive Hayman Island by boat or helicopter. Hold onto your wallet!

Where is the Airlie Beach Airport?

Whitsunday Airport is a very busy, light plane airport on the coast five kilometers east from Airlie Beach, along Shute Harbour Road. It owns and uses the name Whitsunday Airport, which is why Proserpine Airport can not use the Whitsunday name. You can't fly in on regular commercial flights. It specialises in tourist flights, which buzz Airlie Beach and other scenic spots. It has flights to the islands and out to the reef. Actually the buzzing of Airlie Beach is mostly by the Tiger Moth doing joy flights, and various helicopters. Whitsunday Airport is a great little airport, especially for people who are buying into the new resort at Funnel Bay being planned directly under the flight path.

Outside Whitsunday Shire

Laguna Quays is even weirder. This is a totally isolated golfing resort on the coast near Midge Point (although they don't call it Midge Point in the advertising, so be warned). Laguna Quays resort was built when there was an expectation of clubs of golf mad Japanese executives visiting, which didn't happen. The owner keeps claiming he will put in an international airport there, and claims he will move Proserpine airport there. To his credit, extensive earth moving has occurred. This location would be totally stupid, as it would make the airport even less convenient to the rest of the infrastructure. It adds around another 13 kilometres or ten minutes to travel time to Airlie Beach, assuming there is absolutely no trafic. Laguna Quays isn't even within Whitsunday local government area, which seems to me to make any Whitsunday council support for a Laguna Quays airport even weirder. But what would I know?

Whitsunday Coast Airport Protests

If there are no problems with the Whitsunday Coast Airport, why are there so many community protests about moving the airport, and about council handling and council secrecy? Why did the secret council and developer agreement end up being fought through the courts. Did council try to sell an airport they didn't even own to someone else?

See more details of airport protests. There have been a number of local protests over the years.

Airport Runway Threatened By Floods?

Does part of the runway at Whitsunday Coast Airport subside into the surrounding swamps each time it rains? It seems soft spots develop in the runway during the rainy season. At least, repairs seem to me to cluster around February, the peak of the rainy season.

Jetstar are not allowed to use the Whitsunday Coast Airport airport for their A321 aircraft, except in emergencies. Jetstar asked in relation to their direct Melbourne to Cairns and Coolangatta to Darwin flights. The A321 is reported to be 50 tonnes heavier than current aircraft. It also uses tyres at over 200 psi, a higher tyre pressure than current aircraft. Council Infrastructure Services Department advised the A321 would have a detrimental effect on the runway, which already has constant repairs as a result of current aircraft movements.

Whitsunday Coast Airport had a record 1077mm of rain in March 2011, the highest in the area since 1956. Of this 628mm fell between 29 and 31 March. Hamilton Island airport had 843mm of rain in March 2011.

Flights to Whitsunday Coast Cancelled

Jetstar Airlines dropped its Sydney to Whitsunday Coast airline flight schedule entirely from July 2008. This reduces seat number into Proserpine by around 500 a week. Tourism Whitsunday spokesman said this would devastate the tourism industry in the Whitsunday region. The tourism industry are meeting with Queensland Tourism Minister Desley Boyle, doubtless hoping for a handout from a state government that is already overspending its income.

Jetstar flights between Brisbane and Proserpine change from the evening to mornings from April 2011. I can not decide at the moment whether this will be better or worse. But you would sure need to get up early to catch them, and may not meet other flights as well.

Virgin Blue Airlines also dropped their once weekly direct Sydney to Proserpine flight in July 2008. If you would like an inconvenient flight to the Whitsundays from anywhere except Brisbane, it is available. Plus if you do not book your luggage online, you get socked $20 for your bag.

Flights Halved to Hamilton Island

Jetstar will also halve the number of airline flights from Sydney to popular tourism destination Hamilton Island, a gateway to the Whitsunday Islands, in mid 2008. There will now be only one flight a day. This will reduce tourism seats into Hamilton Island by more than 1200 a week. Tourism capacity will be reduced around 20%. Not a good sign for an island whose only business is tourism.

Oil Shale Mining At Proserpine

Proposal to mine Whitsunday Coast airport for oil shale, reported in the Townsville Bulletin. Exploration started by Queensland Energy Resources Ltd. The McFarlane, the largest oil shale deposit in Queensland is located at Condor near Proserpine, with an estimated yield of 9.65 billion barrels. Whitsunday Times reports former Mayor Mario Demartini says the only reason to move the airport would be because of oil shale mining. QER say the airport can initially stay, but it should never be up to them in the first place. Especially since QER would doubtless seek taxation money to move the airport. I have more on oil shale mining in the Whitsundays and the protests against oil shale mining.

Airport Upgrade

The Blight government promised millions for upgrades of Whitsunday Coast Airport during their election campaign. This became a seven million dollar commitment. In September 2010, Mayor Mike Brunker claimed lease arrangements with Qantas were holding up the start of work on the terminal. There are claims work will start on the car park.

The upgrades, including an indoor baggage area, are expected to be complete around July 2011. The airport area will be increased to 700 square metre.

Proserpine Airport Latest in Nation

More planes departed late from Proserpine airport in 2010 than from anywhere else in Australia. Not surprisingly, it also had the lowest percentage of on time arrivals. It is lucky that the buses and taxis wait for passengers. Flights to Brisbane were on time 72.2%, while arrivals were 75.1%. This is according to Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and regional Economics (BITRE).