The RFDS will have their own patient transfer facility at the Gladstone Airport.
The RFDS will have their own patient transfer facility at the Gladstone Airport. contributed

Airport's Royal Flying Doctor Service facility takes off

"IT'S been going on long enough, let's just get it done".

Those were Gladstone Region councillor Peter Masters' words regarding the much-talked about Royal Flying Doctor Service facility proposed for the Gladstone Airport.

The issue was first raised in February, when rumours began circulating that RFDS pilots were being forced to sleep under their planes as there was no adequate facilities for them.

At Tuesday's council meeting they committed $108,000 to build a patient transfer station for the RFDS and additional toilets for general aviation and car rental personnel.

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Mayor Matt Burnett said the council wanted the facility built but had been seeking support from businesses.

"At the end of the day, major corporate wasn't interested in putting it forward," he said.

"The airport said 'we're happy to but really it's a community service obligation, so if you want us to do it, you'll practically have to pay for it'.

"So we went back to them and said 'it's now August and we want this to happen, so we're going to do it'."

Cr Burnett said he understood there were some facilities that could be utilised in the interim.

"It's not going to be very expensive and the benefit to the community is huge," he said. "I remember the story where we had pilots sleeping under the plane to get some shade and that's pretty poor form.

"As Pete Masters said (on Tuesday), if you can't support the Royal Flying Doctor Service, you might as well give up."

Gladstone pilot John Groth, who has a hangar at the airport, said previously if adequate facilities were not built at the airport there could be an accident.

The council is the only shareholder at the airport so the dividend it receives could be impacted by the decision.

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According to the Gladstone Airport Corporation's statement of corporate intent, subsequent to Bechtel donating a donga, the GAC board considered a paper on providing a patient transfer station for RFDS and toilets for the Gladstone Airport community in December 2016.

"The chairman reported to GRC on this matter at the February 2017 shareholder presentation and GRC acknowledged the desirability of both facilities," the paper reads. "GAC believes the facility is important and acknowledges the community expects it."



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