North Queensland Airports has been approved for a $155 million loan from the Federal Government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), which will see major upgrades for the Cairns and Mackay Airports.  

The loan to North Queensland Airports will help refurbish Cairns Airport’s international terminal – its first major upgrade since the building opened over 30 years ago.  

The NAIF loan will help to provide additional capacity by expanding baggage belts in the arrivals hall and will also contribute to the refurbishment of the departure lounge at the airport’s international terminal.  

The loan will deliver new airside infrastructure as part of a new aviation precinct, including additional aircraft stands and taxiways, as well as upgrading existing taxiways for future growth.  

At Mackay Airport, funding will help deliver runway, apron and taxiway surface upgrades as well as a mixed retail and commercial precinct.  

Federal Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Madeleine King, said that the investment was another example of how the Federal Government was supporting people in Northern Australia.  

“Today’s announcement is fantastic news for those living and working in North Queensland,” Ms King said.   

“This funding will help make air travel faster and easier for people in North Queensland, connecting families and businesses to the rest of Queensland, the nation and the world.  

“Projects like this strengthen the economy of Northern Australia.   

“And a strong north means a strong Australia.”  

Minister King said that the projects were expected to deliver $1.4 billion in economic benefits during construction and operation.  

The projects are also expected to create 500 direct and indirect jobs during construction and nearly 1,500 regional jobs once in operation.  

Federal Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Senator for Queensland, Anthony Chisholm, echoed Ms King’s comments, stating that these airport upgrades will bring a much-needed boost to regional Queensland’s air travel network.  

“Being Australia’s most decentralised state, airports like Mackay and Cairns play a vital role in making sure Queensland continues to be a great place to live and visit.   

“Projects like these are another great example of the excellent work NAIF does by stimulating economic growth through backing critical infrastructure developments in our country’s northern towns and cities.”  

Senator for Queensland, Nita Green, said that it is investment like this that keeps rural and regional Queensland connected to one another and the rest of the country.  

“As a regional Senator, I travel through the regional airports almost every week, I know firsthand how important these upgrades are for our communities,” Senator Green said.   

“Whether you’re taking the milk run or travelling to capital cities for work or to see friends and family, it is these airports that people in rural and regional Queensland rely on. That’s why this investment is so important.”  

North Queensland Airports CEO, Richard Barker, said the NAIF loan would enable investment in infrastructure that will unlock the next phase of growth across both Cairns and Mackay airports.   

“The extensive infrastructure upgrades that will be assisted by this loan will set our airports up for ongoing success as our communities develop and grow,” Mr Barker said.  

“This loan recognises our airports’ critical roles across the Cairns and Mackay regions, contributing to tourism, freight, business, the resources industry and more. 

“We are grateful for this support from the NAIF and look forward to showcasing these enhancements to locals and visitors.” 

Cairns Airport is Australia’s seventh busiest for international passengers, with direct flights from Tokyo, Osaka, Singapore, Shanghai, Bali, Auckland and Port Moresby.  

The upgrades will support the tourism, resources and agricultural industries in North Queensland by encouraging business travel and air freight fresh produce and other goods.  

NAIF’s funding to North Queensland Airports is the latest support by the agency for the aviation sector in the north.  

Townsville Airport, the Northern Territory’s Airport Development Group and Connellan Airport, through Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia, have all benefited from previous NAIF funding.  

This loan will bring the NAIF’s total investments in Queensland projects to over $1.6 billion. 

Image: ChameleonsEye/shutterstock.com 

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