|Operator||North Queensland Airports Group|
|Serves||Cairns, Queensland, Australia|
|Location||Aeroglen, Queensland, Australia|
|Focus city for||Jetstar|
|Elevation AMSL||10 ft / 3 m|
Source: AIP Enroute Supplement
passenger and aircraft movements from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE)
Cairns Airport (IATA: CNS, ICAO: YBCS) is an international airport in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. Formerly operated by the Cairns Port Authority, the airport was sold by the Queensland Government in December 2008 to a private consortium. It is the seventh busiest airport in Australia. The airport is located 2.3 nautical miles (4.3 km; 2.6 mi) north northwest of Cairns or 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) north of the Cairns central business district, in the suburb of Aeroglen. The airport lies between Mount Whitfield to the west and Trinity Bay to the east.
The airport has direct flights to 10 international and 35 domestic destinations and many general aviation flights including a number of helicopter operators. Flights are operated to all major Australian cities and tourist destinations, regional communities in Far North Queensland, and a number of international destinations in the Asia-Pacific region with connections to the rest of the world. The airport formed the main base for Australian Airlines prior to its ceasing of operations in June 2006 (the airport remains a major port for parent company Qantas). It is also a base for the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia and the search and rescue helicopters of the Queensland Government. In the 12 months ending 30 June 2019 Cairns Airport had just over 5 million passengers.
Cairns Airport goes back to 1928 when Tom McDonald started flying his de Havilland Gipsy Moth off a sand ridge near the present airport. He could only land and take off between high tides. During one emergency, Tom was forced to take off from beer barrels.
During World War II the Australian Government bought the airport for use by the Royal Australian Air Force. In 1943, the main runway was hard surfaced and lengthened to handle military aircraft. It was also used by the United States Army Air Forces as a transport base, with the 33d Troop Carrier Squadron (374th Troop Carrier Group) operating from the base during 1942. In 1949, the main runway was lengthened to 1,730 m (5,680 ft) to accommodate larger aircraft. During the mid-1960s, the airport was upgraded and the runway further lengthened to 2,020 m (6,630 ft) and strengthened so jets could land.
During the 1970s, Australia's two domestic airlines Trans Australia Airlines and Ansett provided regular scheduled services to most Australian capital cities and also Papua New Guinea, while in 1975 Air Niugini became the first international airline to commence flights out of Cairns, to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. In 1982, redevelopment of the airport commenced. This involved further lengthening of the runway to 2,600 m (8,500 ft) (making it the longest runway in Queensland) and construction of a new terminal building. The first stage of the redevelopment was finished in 1984 and a dual International and Domestic Terminal was opened. At the end of the decade the second stage of redevelopment was completed. This included a new separate International Terminal, associated aprons and taxiways, costing an estimated $80 million. The main runway was again extended, to 3,196 m (10,486 ft). In 1997, the third stage of redevelopment was completed, during which a three-storey Airport Administration Centre was constructed providing 4,000 m2 (43,000 sq ft) of office space.
A$200 million redevelopment of the Domestic terminal started in August 2007 and was completed in 2010. Check-in facilities were expanded into a common-user facility for all airlines, and the building enlarged. Five new jet bridges replaced the existing three old bridges. In January 2010, Auckland International Airport Limited announced that it had purchased 24.6 per cent of North Queensland Airports (NQA), operator of the airports at Cairns and Mackay, for about $132 million.
A further upgrade of the Domestic terminal was begun in 2019 and completed in August 2020, at a total cost of $55 million. The purpose of the upgrade was to prepare the terminal to handle the domestic portion of the airport's projected 6 million passengers annually from 2027. The floor area of the departure hall was increased to 10,000 m2 (110,000 sq ft), and an additional 2,000 m2 (22,000 sq ft) of dining and retail facilities were added. The upgrade also included expanded seating areas, a new interactive children's play screen, an upgraded Parenting Room, and a new Quiet Room.
Prior to February 2020 and the coronavirus pandemic, Cairns Airport's chief aviation officer Luis Perez told the Cairns Post that he was in talks with 22 airlines to connect Cairns to destinations such as North America, Korea, Taipei, Malaysia, the Middle East, India, Vietnam and the Philippines.
The airport has two passenger terminals on the eastern side of the airport on reclaimed mangrove swamp. They are approximately 6 km (3.7 mi) north of the Cairns Central Shopping Centre and situated on Airport Avenue off Sheridan Street (Captain Cook Highway). The terminals are in two separate buildings 200 m (660 ft) from one another. The Domestic terminal is number 2 and it has five jet bridges and 17 gates, while the International Terminal is number 1 and it currently has six jet bridges and ten gates in total.
The airport has a single runway which is 3,156 m (10,354 ft) long. The flight path to the north of the main runway is located directly overhead Cairns' northern beach suburbs. The flight path to the south is located directly over central Cairns. A smaller (925 m (3,035 ft)) runway 12/30 that was used for general aviation lies to the east; its final approach crossed the main runway. As of April 2011 this runway is closed and has been converted to a helipad area.
Airlines and destinations
|Qantas Freight||Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Hong Kong|
|Toll Aviation||Brisbane, Darwin, Sydney|
|Virgin Australia Cargo||Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Townsville|
|Cairns Airport statistics|
|Rank||Airport||Number of Passengers||% change|
|2||New South Wales, Sydney||1,078,060||4.8|
|Rank||Airport||Passengers handled||% change|
|4||Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby||68,527||8.8|
|6*||Hong Kong, Hong Kong||44,403||55|
|7||New Zealand, Auckland||33,686||15|
|Rank||Airport||Freight handled||% change|
|1*||Hong Kong, Hong Kong||1,679.2||49|
|4||Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby||252.3||15|
|7||New Zealand, Auckland||67.9||20|
Ranks are located near both the International and Domestic Terminals. Cairns Taxis taxi ranks are located immediately outside the International and Domestic Terminals.
Short-term and long-term parking, including a covered car park and parking for people with a disability are located within the public carparks adjacent to both the Domestic and International Terminals.
- United States Army Air Forces in Australia (World War II)
- Transportation in Australia
- List of airports in Queensland
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Media related to Cairns Airport at Wikimedia Commons