Come fly away, where the air is rarefied on the Sunshine Coast
The Sunshine Coast is on the verge of a visitor explosion with the $350 million expansion of the airport to accommodate additional national and internationals flights by 2020.
Dreamliners and Airbuses alike will make dreams come true for the Sunshine Coast Council and the business community with the influx of interstate and overseas passengers.
Currently, one million passengers fly in from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Auckland each year.
The upgrade, which includes a new east-west runway and terminal, will take about four years and allow for direct international flights from Asia and New Zealand.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester said “a world class tourism destination and a highly desirable place to live like the Sunshine Coast needs a world class airport. It does need an international airport and this is the next step along that journey."
It has been described as a “game changer”, while the economic benefit to the region has been independently assessed at $4 billion over the next two decades.
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said “it will also be the impetus for a range of investment on the Sunshine Coast potentially unlike we've ever seen before in terms of international hotel opportunities and tourism attractions. Up until this stage our ability to participate in international tourism has been severely limited by access and this new airport will solve that problem."
The airport expansion will also open up import and export opportunities for local SMEs and further establish the airport as perfect for aviation businesses. Prime airside and landside sites will be available for aviation and aerospace specific companies.
Airline and pilot/aircrew training is one of the fastest growing requirements in the aviation industry. One local business, Flight Options, is already providing high-tech aviation solutions with cutting edge simulator training facilities.
Flight Options has a training complex at the Sunshine Coast Airport, which is ideally located to serve international clients. The company is certain to expand with the airport expansion.
It is part of the aviation interests of well-known industry identity Steve Padgett, who said: “Since establishing our aviation interests on the Sunshine Coast over 20 years ago, we are working to further develop a flight simulator and training facility equal or better to anything found in the world. The Sunshine Coast is an ideal location to achieve this.”
Flight Options houses two independent simulator bays, a Cessna Citation Mustang Business Jet and a Beech King Air 350i Full Level D simulators. The complex includes classrooms, de-briefing rooms, station and procedural trainers and all facilities necessary to support comprehensive, all-inclusive training programs.
The company operates several Cessna Citation Business Jets in its fleet of owned or managed aircraft, including several in the charter category.
Mr Padgett said Flight Options continues to explore new and existing opportunities in the training and development of aviation professionals from Australia and around the world.
Secondary aviation and aerospace precinct, Caloundra Aerodrome, which accommodates about 20,000 aircraft movements each year, is also earmarked for expansion.
The council promotes its world-class aviation base, skilled workforce and optimal flight conditions.