THE Gladstone Airport will not close down during reconstruction although their may be a temporary pause of commercial flight in July next year, Gladstone Regional Mayor George Creed said yesterday.
Cr Creed announced that the airport would remain open for all air ambulance, emergency flights and general aviation during an invitation only meeting mid-afternoon yesterday and repeated it at a public meeting later that evening.
He said council would waive both passenger and landing charges during July as an incentive for any airline that wished to provide a commercial service during that time.
"This amounts to an incentive package of approximately $250,000," Cr Creed said.
He said QantasLink had told council it had the capacity and the availability to operate their 36 seat Dash 8 200 series aircraft during that critical period.
"It is now a commercial decision for QantasLink whether they actually provide the service during that period."
"Reconstructing the runway while maintaining flight services has been the greatest challenge, but we now have achieved that capability.
Cr Creed said the $65 million upgrade would provide the region with a well-built facility and a runway that was fully compliant with Civil Aviation Safety Authority requirements.
He said tenders have been called for the project and the successful contractor would be announced in January 2009.
The construction of the runway would begin in February.
The two meetings, held at the CQUniversity Gladstone campus, were addressed by consultant Rod Sullivan, and council CEO Graeme Kanofski.
Mr Kanofski said further negotiations were to take place with QantasLink in an attempt to keep the commercial flights during July.
However, QantasLink general manager commercial Elsa D'Allessio pointed out that if the airline did decide to continue services, it could be disadvantaged by having to put on a fleet of the smaller 36 seat aircraft.
Mr Sullivan said the runway, to be constructed in stages, will be extended from 1635 metres to 1960 metres.
He said the new runway would be able to take the occasional larger aircraft and, if the demand grew, it would be suitable for use by B737/A320 jets.