ADVANCE Cairns is calling for serious economic development into the region’s aviation projects, urging the Queensland Government to invest in key infrastructure projects to build the industry locally.
In releasing a general aviation priority, Advance Cairns wants to build a diversified, resilient economic future.
The paper forms part of Advance Cairns’ broader 2024-25 budget submission, the last budget in this term of the current Queensland Government.
Advance Cairns Chief Executive Officer Jacinta Reddan said an investment in the regional aviation sector would bring significant benefit.
“These initiatives will not only enhance the general aviation sector but also strengthen Cairns’ position as a national and regional hub for specialised aviation training – we urge the Queensland Government’s support for these transformative projects,” she said.
“By investing in these projects, the Queensland Government could propel Cairns and Far North Queensland as a premier hub for aviation training and services, fostering economic growth, creating jobs, and ensuring vital connectivity for the region.
“The accommodation initiative is also an exciting response to the need for short-term, especially student, housing in Cairns – it would meet a much-needed gap in the market.”
Cairns Airport’s General Aviation Precinct currently houses more than 100 businesses, including major maintenance organisations, education providers, and rescue and charter flight services.
The precinct plays a critical role in maintaining connectivity across the region, serving Cape York, Torres Strait, Papua New Guinea, and the wider Asia-Pacific.
The demand for maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services in Cairns has surged, leading to the need for expanded infrastructure.
Advance Cairns estimates that at least $15 million in business was turned away in the past 12 months.
The Advance Cairns General Aviation submission highlights the ever-increasing pressure on the existing maintenance, repair, and overhaul sector (MRO), with the precinct now at capacity and turning away business due to lack of adequate infrastructure.
The proposal recommends an investment of $45 million by the Queensland Government to develop a 10,000m² hangar under a common user principle, within Cairns Airport’s new Eastern Aviation Precinct.
Cairns Airport Chief Executive Officer Richard Barker said economic data shows that Cairns’ aircraft manufacturing and repair services sector adds $36 million to the regional economy per annum and provides more than 370 direct jobs.
“The broader general aviation sector contributes $88 million and more than 900 jobs, underscoring its pivotal role in the region’s economic landscape,” he said.
“The new common user hangar would unlock much-needed capacity to maintain and repair fixed wing and rotary aircraft, benefitting existing operators across the precinct and positioning Cairns as a national leader in this sector.”
The submission also calls for an $8 million investment in what would be a nationwide first, a Cessna Caravan full flight simulator.
With this aircraft widely used under challenging conditions in remote locations across the region, this simulator would introduce a new and enhanced method of pilot training, creating a safer, richer, and more sustainable training program.
This would position Cairns as the national and regional hub for Cessna Caravan training, benefiting commercial and humanitarian services, Indigenous communities, and the wider Pacific region.