Our new runway should have planes from China landing on the Coast by 2024.
Our new runway should have planes from China landing on the Coast by 2024. Contributed

Airport to export local produce by 2024

AGRIBUSINESSES could be exporting local produce to Asia from Sunshine Coast Airport from as early as 2024 thanks to increased international flights and a new freight hub outlined in the Sunshine Coast Airport Draft Master Plan 2040.

Sunshine Coast Council business performance project director Paul Skillen told councillors at Thursday's ordinary meeting that as planes began taking passengers to Asia, the airport would seek to increase the freight that went with them.

"So it doesn't directly state it, but it can be interpreted from the graphs contained within the masterplan that they would intend doing that from as early as (20)24, (20)25 but then a better, or more significant, increase in the years (20)25 to (20)30," Mr Skillen said.

The announcement came as councillors acknowledged that the airport masterplan met its contractual requirements.

Mr Skillen also recommended that councillors noted all decisions on matters relating to operations and safety at the airport would be made by Sunshine Coast Airport Pty Ltd.

He asked them to approve the masterplan by having the CEO Michael Whittaker write a letter to Sunshine Coast Airport Pty Ltd.

Councillors voted to do so but not before councillor Greg Rogerson probed Mr Skillen about time frames.

"My understanding is that the main thrust initially is the internal, within Australia, better services," Cr Rogerson said.

"Where I personally … would like to open our agribusinesses to Asia.

"I would have thought that would be something, well it's high on my priority list, it should be of all council's priority to get that as quickly as we possibly can."

Mr Skillen said reaching Asia with passengers and produce was "undoubtedly" critical to the ongoing development of the airport.

"So it's certainly their intention to get there and do it as soon as they can but they have taken the decision to pursue domestic increases while seeking those international ones," he said.

Locally-owned McDermott Aviation Group CEO Simon McDermott said the closure of existing runway 18/36 represented the loss of a $200 million community asset.

Cr Peter Cox said it was one of the most common submissions he received about the airport during community consultation.

"Safety is the key thing," Mr Cox said.

Mr Skillen said the masterplan did not direct Sunshine Coast Airport to close the existing runway and the council could not direct the airport to keep any portion of the existing runway open.

Cr Rick Baberowski, Cr Peter Cox, Cr John Connolly, Cr Jenny McKay, Cr Christian Dickson, Cr Ted Hungerford, Cr Jason O'Pray, Cr Steve Robinson and Cr Tim Dwyer voted in favour of acknowledging that the airport masterplan met its contractual requirements.

Cr Rogerson voted against the motion while Mayor Mark Jamieson was absent from the meeting. 



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