THE first signs of construction at the Whitsunday Coast Airport have been seen this week with contractors setting up on site and a small area already cleared for expansion.
The $7 million upgrade and refurbishment of the airport passenger terminal will increase the size to more than 700 sqm, create an internal baggage claim carousel, refurbish and expand the departure lounge and refurbish and relocate the cafe into the departure lounge.
The plans will also allow space for customs and quarantine facilities for future limited international carriers.
Almost two years after Member for Whitsunday Jan Jarratt promised residents a new airport, on Tuesday she welcomed the first signs of the development.
“It is going to be a much nicer welcome to our visitors,” she said.
“It is an avenue for council to look for professional management which we hope will give us a better chance of attracting additional flights.
“We really believe professional management will help in attracting that.”
Ms Jarratt said work on the airport would be undertaken in three stages, in an attempt to minimise disruption to passengers.
"The airport will remain open and fully operational throughout the seven-month program of works, which is vital in an electorate which relies heavily on tourist trade," she said.
"The start of works marks a major step towards providing a modern airport with improved facilities for the 230,000 passengers who use the terminal each year - including residents of Proserpine, tourists to the Whitsunday region and businesses which operate from and within the terminal.”
State Infrastructure and Planning minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the work was expected to take 28 weeks with construction hoped to be complete by May or June next year, but the impending wet season could result in delays.
Whitsunday Regional Council's director of transport and infrastructure Gary Martin said he hoped council would give the airport car park plans the green light next week so they could call for contract tenders and begin construction too.
He said it would make sense to have everything working towards a similar timeline.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.