Busy Coffs airport to become even busier

By CRAIG McTEAR

COFFS HARBOUR'S airport is one of the success stories of the region, according to Cr Ian Ovens.

The Coffs Harbour City Council's airport advisory committee chairman said the facility was the biggest airport outside of Sydney in terms of passenger numbers, handling an estimated 240,000 people annually.

"Newcastle is pushing heavily to chase us," Cr Ovens said.

He said the airport was set to become even busier now that Virgin Blue was introducing a weekly direct Melbourne-Coffs Harbour-Melbourne service from Saturday.

"This Melbourne service is another step in the right direction," he said.

"We want to use Coffs as a hub to bring people to this region."

In another boost for Coffs Harbour, there will now be two Virgin Blue flights out of Sydney daily from December 18 until the end of January to cover the hectic Christmas and school holiday periods.

Cr Ovens said he hoped a second mid-week Melbourne service would be introduced at some stage.

He said the capacity of the privately-operated security car park at Coffs airport had just doubled and that it was an important facility for passengers who wanted to leave their vehicles in an undercover, secure and safe area.

There were also plans to make the existing public car park more 'user-friendly', while the council was investigating ways of improving access to the airport from Hogbin Drive to alleviate traffic congestion.

Coffs Harbour is serviced by QantasLink, Virgin Blue and Sunshine Express and has the capacity to take Boeing 767-300 (240-seat) aircraft.

The airport is designated as a restricted international airport and in just 20 minutes, the main terminal can be configured to handle both international and domestic operations at the same time.

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