Mareeba, the Atherton Tablelands and wider Gulf and Cape York regions are set to benefit from improved air services with the completion of the Mareeba Airport Upgrade Project, officially opened today.
Mareeba Shire Mayor Tom Gilmore said the airport started as a Second World War airstrip, and while it had seen improvements over the years, its full potential could not have been reached without significant assistance to rejuvenate and expand it.
“This is a significant moment for Mareeba Shire and the Far North Queensland region. The upgrade we see now completed, has only been made possible through assistance from the Queensland and Australian governments,” Mayor Gilmore said.
“On behalf of the community, I offer my deepest appreciation to both levels of government for making this development come to fruition.
“I anticipate that over the next decade, this facility will see the employment of hundreds of people involved in high-level aviation.”
North Queensland-based LNP Senator, Susan McDonald, said the upgrade, would vastly improve freight and passenger services, as well as allow Mareeba to be an alternative landing strip should Cairns Airport be unavailable.
“Mareeba Airport will be used by maintenance crews, trainee pilots, the North Queensland Aero Club, FIFO mine workers, agricultural freight movers, air show pilots, and general aviation ,” she said.
“This upgrade also puts Mareeba in prime position to take advantage of growing international demand for pilot training, and will allow for improved disaster management responsiveness.
“There will also be greater demand for skilled aircraft maintenance engineers.”
Representing the Premier, Member for Cook Cynthia Lui joined Mareeba Shire Mayor Tom Gilmore and Senator Susan McDonald to officially open Stage 2 of the $23 million project.
“This $23 million project is an investment in Far North Queensland’s regional aviation capabilities and an investment in Mareeba’s future,” Ms Lui said.
“I’m proud of the Palaszczuk Government’s $13 million contribution to this upgrade and I congratulate Mareeba Mayor Tom Gilmore, the Mareeba Shire Council and local contractor FGF Developments for delivering it.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the upgrade was one of the most significant chapters in the Far North’s aviation history.
“The extended runway, additional taxiways and airfield lighting and an increased capacity to cater for larger aircraft have transformed the airport into a key regional aviation hub, where avionics and aircraft maintenance capabilities would be expanded,” the Premier said.
“It will provide an alternative to Cairns Airport for activities like pilot training, maintenance and some general aviation, bringing significant economic benefits to the region.”
Stage 1 was opened in March this year which involved the construction of a new commercial precinct with 52 fully-serviced lots suitable for aviation-related businesses, along with upgrades to surrounding roads, a new airport water main and renewal of airport fencing.
The project was jointly funded by the Australian Government and the Queensland Government.