Airport closes due to rain

THE Gladstone airport was closed this week due to rain.

Planes were diverted to Rockhampton on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday due to rain and low-level cloud, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded and scratching their heads.

“Why does the Gladstone Airport always close down when it rains – it's ridiculous,” one passenger said.

Qantas Link said the flights were cancelled for the safety of passengers.

“Due to bad weather the planes could not land at the Gladstone Airport and all planes were diverted to Rockhampton,” a spokesperson said.

“The decision to stop planes from landing was made by management at the Gladstone Airport.”

However, when The Observer contacted management at the Gladstone Airport they refused to comment.

In an ongoing issue, many locals are now asking why planes can't land in bad weather at Gladstone Airport. Speculation has been rife, including suggestions of height thresholds and landing requirements, outdated electrical equipment and lighting.

The Observer approached Qantas Link, the Civil Aviation Authority (CASA) and Gladstone Airport and asked exactly what the problem is and when it will be rectified, but no one could offer an answer.

Questions are now being raised as to why the ratepayer funded $70 million airport upgrade didn't include up-to-date equipment that will allow planes to land during wet weather.

Acting Gladstone Regional Council Mayor Gail Sellers said Gladstone Airport was comparable to any other regional airport in its ability to handle traffic in difficult weather.

“Heavy rain and particularly low-lying cloud has caused some difficulties for Gladstone Airport in recent days, but such conditions would do so at many airports,” Cr Sellers said.

“Safety is paramount in this situation and neither Gladstone Airport nor the airlines involved are willing to compromise passenger wellbeing.

“It is understandable that cancellations and lost time can be frustrating for travellers, but most would appreciate that their safety has to be the highest priority.”

Cr Sellers said the installation of a precision approach landing system, which is already in the process, will help alleviate the effects of difficult weather.

“Once this system is in place, and taking into consideration the extended and soon-to-be grooved runway, the facilities at Gladstone Airport will be of a higher standard than most regional airports in Australia.”

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