THE car park at the Whitsunday Coast Airport will be upgraded within the next 12 months – and pay parking will introduced.
Whitsunday Regional Council has allocated $750,000 in this year’s budget for the upgrade.
Council has budgeted about $5 million in 2012 for a runway upgrade.
Chief executive John Finlay said the money raised from the pay parking at the airport would be used to help fund the runway works.
Council is planning to spend a total of $16 million on the airport over the next nine years.
A Council spokesperson said that while airports could provide good streams of revenue, they also required large capital intensive works every 12 to 18 years in order to maintain pavement and lighting assets.
"For sustainable operation of the airport, it is vital that these peaks of high capital expenditure are captured and appropriate funds accrued in years of low expenditure."
It is expected that the planning and design of the runway upgrade will occur next year with an asphalt overlay done in 2012.
Design and planning of the car park will take place this year. Council hopes the upgrade can be done in conjunction with the state government’s $7 million terminal upgrade, due to be completed early next year.
The airport currently has 150 car parks. This is expected to more than double with the new design.
There will be short and long-stay parking but Council could not confirm the fee structure at this stage.
A spokesperson said revenue generated from the pay parking would go back into airport reserves for future maintenance and upgrades as required.
Tourism Whitsundays chief executive Peter O’Reilly said TW supported the introduction of pay parking at the Whitsunday Coast Airport on the basis it would ultimately lead to better airport facilities.
"The airport needs major upgrades over the next five years and this income will allow Council to complete these much needed upgrades," Mr O’Reilly said.
"While the impact on locals may be noticeable, the impact on tourists will be negligible."
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