Mount Gambier Airport
Mount Gambier Airport
Terminal building in August 2018.
|Owner/Operator||District Council of Grant|
|Serves||Mount Gambier, the Limestone Coast region and neighbouring Victorian towns|
|Location||Wandilo, South Australia|
|Elevation AMSL||212 ft / 65 m|
It is located on the Riddoch Highway in Wandilo, about 5 nautical miles (9.3 km; 5.8 mi) north of Mount Gambier. It is the only commercial airport servicing the Limestone Coast region of South Australia. Currently, Regional Express Airlines is the only airline servicing the airport, with multiple daily flights to Adelaide and Melbourne, using Saab 340 turboprop aircraft.
The original Mount Gambier aerodrome was established when Mr H.S. (Stan) May and Mr S.C. Davis purchased land directly opposite the present airport on the Riddoch Highway. An aerodrome was established and basic infrastructure provided with the aerodrome officially opened on 21 May 1930. Scheduled airline services to Adelaide and Melbourne began the same year. The aerodrome owners then purchased 82 hectares of land that was part of 'Croyle Estate' and then another 66 hectares of the same property on 2 June 1936. This site is where the airport is today. A licence was granted by the then-Civil Aviation Branch of the Department of Defence on 1 July 1936 and the new airport began hosting regular public transport flights.
In July 1939 the Federal Government purchased the aerodrome from its civilian owners and commenced the construction of a Royal Australian Air Force base which was to house the No. 2 Air Observers School (2AOS). It was officially formed on 6 February 1941 and the first intake of trainees began on 6 March 1941.
The school had its own ambulance, hospital, butcher, gymnasium and even cinema and at its peak was home to over 1000 personnel. It was eventually disbanded in January 1946 after training over 4000 Air Observers, Navigators and Wireless Operators, of which many served with RAF Bomber Command over Germany, Atlantic Ocean, the Middle East and South East Asia. 2AOS also conducted coastal surveillance operations in the South East of South Australia, reporting a number of submarine sightings.
On 29 May 1947 the airport was handed over to the Department of Civil Aviation and this saw the return of regular public transport flights to the region with Ansett Airways announcing that a daily service would operate between Mount Gambier and Melbourne. In July 1947 the Mount Gambier Gliding Club was formed and over the next 40 years the airport continued to prosper as a critical port for flights from Adelaide and Melbourne.
In 2011 it was announced that Mount Gambier Airport would be upgraded under a $3.4 million program. This project was partly funded by the Government of South Australia who awarded a $500,000 infrastructure grant with the balance coming from the airport's reserve fund. The upgrade, part of a 15-year redevelopment plan, will strengthen the main runway, aprons and taxiways, to enable larger aircraft to operate to the airport and help increase the area's tourism appeal.
In 2014 Adelaide-based company Aerostar Aviation announced they would open a flight training school utilising existing infrastructure. The facility will include 1 full-time flight instructor and a Cessna 172. It had been 15 years since the airport had been able to offer flight training, since the closure of the O'Connor Airlines training facility in 1999.
In 2008 Mount Gambier businessman Adrian deBruin formed air charter company deBruin Air after acquiring the assets of defunct airline O'Connor Airlines.The company catered for executive and business charter, contract charter including fly-in fly-out, aerial photography, fire spotting and freight. DeBruin Air was formally closed in early 2016.
Gambiair Flying School
In mid 2016, flight instructor Tony Peters commenced operations trading as Gambiair Flying School. The school currently operates two small aircraft and caters for students working towards either their RA, GA or Commercial Pilots licences.
O'Connor Airlines, which ceased operations 14 December 2007, was formerly based at the airport before going into voluntary administration. The airline initially began with a flight training school in 1973 before expanding into freight and passenger services with scheduled domestic routes to Adelaide and Melbourne..
Regional Express Airlines
In 2002 Australiawide Airlines, a consortium of former Ansett Australia employees) acquired Hazelton Airlines and Kendell Airlines to form a new regional airline. Regional Express continues to operate daily flights between Adelaide, Mount Gambier and Melbourne.
In 2009 QantasLink announced it was exploring further services into regional South Australia, including flights to Mount Gambier. The airline has announced it will introduce a new air service between Adelaide to Port Lincoln, however QantasLink says while Port Lincoln is its primary focus, it will explore further expansion into regional areas.
Airlines and destinations
|Regional Express Airlines||Adelaide, Melbourne|
|Year||Revenue passengers||Aircraft movements|
The Mount Gambier Aero Club Inc. was originally formed in the 1930s and continued through to the Second World War when the airport was taken over by the Royal Australian Air Force. The present day aero club was established as the Mount Gambier Gliding and Soaring Club in July 1947 and continued under this name until 31 May 1957 when it was renamed the Mount Gambier Aero Club, the name used to the present day. 
- Fiscal year 1 July - 30 June
- PDF). AIP En Route Supplement from Airservices Australia, effective 08 November 2018, Aeronautical Chart Archived 10 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine (
- "Airport Traffic Data 1985-86 to 2010-11". Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE). May 2012. Archived from the original on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 27 June 2012. Refers to "Regular Public Transport (RPT) operations only"
- A'osis Airfield, R. Telford, 1998, ISBN 978-0-646-35143-8
- Russell, Christopher (2011-02-11). "$3.2m Mt Gambier airport upgrade". The Advertiser. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
- Hill, Kate (9 September 2014). "Flight training school set to open at Mt Gambier". ABC News. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
- "De Bruin leaves door open on new airline". ABC News. 28 February 2008. Retrieved 27 June 2011.
- "DeBruin opens new Mt Gambier headquarters". ABC News. 12 May 2008. Retrieved 27 June 2011.
- Maria, Craig (22 November 2007). "Airline owes 5 million dollars Airline owes 5 million dollars". ABC News. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
- "QantasLink considers Mt Gambier flights". ABC News. 9 December 2009. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
- Fantin, Elise; Hill, Kate (28 November 2014). "Qantaslink looking to Mt Gambier for new service". ABC News. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
- Fantin, Elise; Hill, Kate (18 December 2014). "Mount Gambier loses out on Qantaslink route to Whyalla". ABC News. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
- "Mount Gambier Aero Club (history)". MOUNT GAMBIER AERO CLUB. Archived from the original on 26 January 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "Community". Mount Gambier Airport. Retrieved 24 July 2013.