8th June 2016
Customs and immigration requirements have delayed what were to be the first international flights into the Whitsundays. Despite previous estimates that flights would begin arriving this year, delays in the entry requirements as well as architectural plans have set the project back. Flights are now rescheduled to begin arriving between August and September 2017.
Mayor Andrew Willcox said that some of the finer points regarding the airport expansion had not been 'fully explored' and that costs could potentially exceed more than $2 million. The requirements for customs and immigration are more stringent than first anticipated and architectural plans of the terminal still need to be drafted. Once the plans are completed, the project will also need to obtain building quotes.
With the proposed changes expected to exceed $200,000, it will be put to tender before building commences. While the delay may be a disappointment for some, Cr Willcox sees a silver lining, believing it will be a positive in the long run. Although the first international flights will be from New Zealand, Cr Willcox wants to ensure the facility is ready for flights into Asia as well.
Amvin aviation experts have advised that there are different requirements for customs and quarantine from Asia to New Zealand, with great importance placed on providing adequate information for visitors. A big-picture focus is the right approach to ensure that when money starts being spent, it is spent in the right direction.
The delay will also allow additional time to market the region and the additional of international flights to overseas markets. A short lead in wouldn't allow much time to share with overseas markets all the great things that the Whitsunday offers, but with additional time to market the convenience of the new international flights, the Whitsundays can enjoy more than its 15 minutes of fame on the world stage.