Federal MP for Dawson George Christensen and Senator James McGrath in Mackay last week excitedly embraced the “shoring up” of international flights to and from Whitsunday and Mackay Airports.
New Whitsunday Mayor Andrew Willcox and Whitsunday Airport interim CEO Scott Waters on Monday were more reserved about the possibility of the Whitsundays being added as a new destination for New Zealanders.
They were not ready to celebrate the inclusion of the Whitsunday Airport as a direct international launch pad to the Whitsunday islands.
Their primary concern was that the move had not been given a chance to be discussed at a local government level yet.
“I am happy that we can get some international flights over there but it hasn’t been through council yet,” Cr Willcox said.
“We have to know from a council point of view what the cost implications are … or what the actual full deal is.”
Mr Waters said the Whitsunday Airport had met the criteria requested of it by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.
“The next step is putting a business case forward to the Federal Government,” he said.
“We are in the final stages of completing that” – the case will need to be approved by the Whitsunday Regional Council before a proposal is submitted back to the Federal Government for consideration.
Mr Waters said he expected the same level of federal support that had been afforded other international airports in regional Queensland.
The first weekend in August has been earmarked for the temporary transition from a domestic to an international terminal.
“The reason we have it on the weekend is because we would shut this down as a domestic terminal and it would open up as a fully operational international terminal,” Cr Willcox said.
No announcement has been made about a possible airline to service the airport but negotiations are in their final stages.
SOURCE: Whitsunday Times