No new planes on radar

GLADSTONE leaders are remaining tight-lipped on the progress to attract a second carrier to the region once the Gladstone Airport upgrades are complete.

As the $65 million ratepayer-funded development takes shape before residents’ eyes, Gladstone Regional Council has thrown the responsibility to attract another carrier company to Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Limited or the Gladstone Chamber of Commerce.

This was the response of council after The Observer made enquiries last week about a jet seen at the airport.

Council chief executive officer Graeme Kanofski said the Airnorth E170 was the biggest craft to land at Gladstone Airport since the airport reconstruction project.

“Many years ago we had a private B737 land on the old runway,” he said.

“BAE 146 and F100 aircraft have been in many times over the years. Under the current new runway the E170 is the largest to date.”

Mr Kanofski said Airnorth have not approached council about regular operations.

“The airport welcomes enquiry from any participant in the aviation industry,” he said.

“We continue to have commercial in-confidence discussions with potential operators, but it is up to them to announce whether they are going to commence operations into Gladstone.”

While council admits to having discussions with potential carriers, Mr Kanofski said it was up to the likes of GAPDL or the Chamber of Commerce to actively attract them.

GAPDL chief executive officer Glenn Churchill repeatedly ignored answering questions about when Gladstone region could expect an announcement about a second carrier, or questions about which companies GAPDL were actively working to attract.

“One of GAPDL’s key priorities is attracting investment into the region,” he said.

“The attraction of expanded airline services is a priority. QantasLink has been a terrific regular passenger transport service and has been loyal and committed to the region. GAPDL will continue to work closely with council, other tiers of government and major stakeholders to ensure we have a variety of services.

“We have had communications with QantasLink and other carriers in the past, in the present and will continue to have discussions in the future.”

The Gladstone Airport Master Plan in 2008 states Virgin Blue has recently expressed interest in servicing Gladstone with its newly acquired 78-seat E170 and 104-seat E190 jets. This was not possible due to pavement overload considerations.

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