Airport money in State budget

The upgrade will be welcomed at the Whitsunday Coast Airport.
The upgrade will be welcomed at the Whitsunday Coast Airport.

THE State Government handed down its budget on Tuesday – and there was money allocated for the upgrade of the Whitsunday Coast Airport.

However, the work has not started yet and it is 15 months since the money was first promised.

The tender process for the building contractor has not been finalised as yet either.

The total amount to be spent on the airport upgrade is $6.48 million.

The first $4 million was announced by Anna Bligh just prior to the election in March 2009.

An extra $3 million was announced by the State Treasurer Andrew Fraser during a visit to the region in February this year.

The Minister for Infrastructure and Planning, Stirling Hinchcliffe, confirmed yesterday afternoon that there would be a total of $6.48 million available for the upgrade in the 2010-2011 financial year. He said the airport welcomed more than 130,000 people a year on tours, transfers and adventure flights and that a revamped Whitsunday Coast Airport would be a real boost for both international and domestic tourists, providing a more functional and comfortable terminal for the visitors to the region."

A spokesperson for his office confirmed that the tender process was expected within the next week.

"Tenders will close in late July, after which a successful bidder will be announced," the spokesperson said.

The Member for Whitsunday, Jan Jarratt, had previously said the building works were scheduled to start in July and be finished by the end of the year.

"Tourism Whitsundays Chief Executive Officer welcomed confirmation this week of the additional $3 million in funding for the Whitsunday Coast Airport terminal upgrade.

"This funding was promised in February this year, and now that promise has been confirmed within the Government’s budget," Mr O’Reilly said. "We understand the commencement of the tender process is imminent, with the upgrade anticipated for completion by early 2011," he said.

"The upgrade to the airport is vital for the future of tourism in the Whitsundays, and we look forward to the project being completed quickly, after so many years of uncertainty."

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