Up, up and away
By ROXANNE MILLAR
BOSSES at the Gold Coast Airport say its 458-metre runway extension announced yesterday will not disrupt the lives of Tweed residents.
Airport managing director Dennis Chant said the federal government approval to extend the runway south would pave the way for more international flights, mostly to South-East Asia and the Pacific.
But he assured Tweed residents that the changes would not turn the airport into one similar to Brisbane's international hub.
"We are a medium-haul destination and do not see ourselves as another Brisbane," he said.
"We have never envisaged the option of jumbo jets out here."
Mr Chant said the runway extension would not result in a change of flight paths or curfews, but could give Tweed residents a "closer" view of the planes on take-off.
"The international flights will be more heavily laden (with fuel and passengers) and will take-off slightly lower, but nowhere near as low as at landing," he said.
Planes will take-off in both directions, depending on weather conditions.
Mr Chant said airlines flying direct to Asia would use 767-300 Boeings, which already arrive at the airport regularly.
They will be able to fly to destinations eight to nine hours away, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.
He said services would not have to increase much for the $6-$8 million project to be financially viable.
"To make it financially viable we only need one additional service a day, which would be worth about $20 million a year to the local economy," he said.
However, the project could be put on hold as the airport waits for the Queensland government to build the tunnel section of the Tugun bypass.
It must also be approved by the airport's board and directors.
Mr Chant said they had deferred the completion date of October 2005 by one year to allow the bypass tunnel to be built.
A spokesperson for Queensland's Main Roads department did not have a date for the start of the tunnel's construction because its approval was subject to a lengthy process involving three governments.
"Because the timing and outcome of this process is outside the direct control of Main Roads, it is premature to speculate on details of the construction program at this stage," he said.