Whyalla Airport

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Whyalla Airport
Airport typePublic
OperatorCorporation of the City of Whyalla
Elevation AMSL41 ft / 12 m
Coordinates33°03′32″S 137°30′52″E / 33.05889°S 137.51444°E / -33.05889; 137.51444Coordinates: 33°03′32″S 137°30′52″E / 33.05889°S 137.51444°E / -33.05889; 137.51444
YWHA is located in South Australia
Location in South Australia
Direction Length Surface
m ft
05/23 1,408 4,619 Gravel
17/35 1,686 5,531 Concrete
Statistics (2010/11[2])
Aircraft movements2,845
Sources: Australian AIP and aerodrome chart,[3] passenger and aircraft movements from the BITRE[4]

Whyalla Airport (IATA: WYA, ICAO: YWHA) is an airport located 4 nautical miles (7.4 km; 4.6 mi) southwest[3] of Whyalla, South Australia.


The Corporation of the City of Whyalla has operated the airport since 1991 when it was handed over by the Australian government. Unfortunately for the City of Whyalla, the main runway's Pavement Classification Number (PCN) has deteriorated from 13[when?] to the current PCN of 8.[3] This has put a stop to all heavy aircraft, such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320, using the airport.[when?] Although such aircraft never operated on a RPT (Regular Passenger Transport) basis, they were a fairly common sight at Whyalla Airport due to charters.[when?]

The airport remained open for use by the Department of Defence C-130 Hercules transport aircraft until the late 1990s. The City of Whyalla, aware of the accelerating damage caused by C-130 operations, asked the Federal Government for financial assistance in upgrading the main runway to accommodate unrestricted C-130 operations. The idea was for the airport to accommodate medium-sized commercial jets as well as the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) aircraft. The government declined to offer the City of Whyalla financial assistance to upgrade the main runway. John Smith (then the Mayor of Whyalla) immediately[when?] put a stop to all C-130 operations in Whyalla, causing the RAAF to use either RAAF Woomera Airfield or RAAF Base Edinburgh to fly in troops and supplies for the nearby Cultana Training Area. This restriction is still in place today.[citation needed]

As of 2008, the main runway remains substandard for anything other than Saab 340 use or lower. This is significant, because the airport is still listed by Qantas and Virgin Australia as the alternate for Adelaide Airport should that airport become inoperable for whatever reason.[citation needed] In 2004, Qantas requested permission to land a Boeing 767 at Whyalla Airport as both Adelaide and Melbourne airports were closed due to fog. Council made the runway available should Qantas need it, but only on the understanding that the Boeing may not be able to take off again. The Qantas Boeing 767 made it safely to its intended destination, but the whole incident highlighted the need for Whyalla to upgrade its main runway to safely accommodate such aircraft in the future.

Whyalla Airport is now[when?] in a difficult position as the South Australian mining boom gets underway. The city would make an ideal fly in/fly out location for the new mines,[5] but lacks the infrastructure to accommodate commercial jets. The City of Whyalla lacks the funds to initiate an upgrade of the main runway and both the Australian and State Governments are reluctant to financially help out, regardless of which political party is in power. Although Whyalla is now[when?] growing again, there is no doubt that such growth will be stunted if the local airport cannot be upgraded to the specifications needed by both defence and the mining industry.[citation needed]

On Wednesday, 17 September 2008, it was announced that the City of Whyalla were investigating spending over A$4 million on upgrading the airport to accept Boeing 737 aircraft. The study is to determine if the airport upgrade is economically feasible.[6] The study will also look at funding options. As of February 2012, Council does not have the required $4.5 million for the pavement upgrade, but has some plans to improve the terminal facilities.[7] It is hoped some grants will be made available for the upgrade via both the Australian and State Governments. One source of funding the council is looking at is selling some of the airport land (of which there is plenty surrounding the actual airport itself) to raise the required funds. Although confidential at this stage,[when?] one task council did complete[when?] was a valuation of the airport land.

Council is in the process[when?] of handing over the day-to-day running of the airport to another company. This company is conducting its feasibility study and an answer was expected by August 2009. However, as of July 2012 the airport is still operated by the Corporation of the City of Whyalla.[3] It is also believed[by whom?] that a bulky goods store will be established on the airport grounds along with a foodbank.

A refurbished terminal was completed in mid 2014, with this upgrade allowing Qantaslink to begin services to the airport from April the following year. The airline offers 13 flights per week between Adelaide and Whyalla. Bombardier Q300 aircraft is used on the route. Regional Express maintain multiple flights per day to Adelaide on their Saab 340 Aircraft.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

operated by Eastern Australia Airlines
Regional Express Adelaide


Whyalla Airport was ranked 51st in Australia for the number of revenue passengers served in financial year 2010-2011.[2][4]

Annual passenger and aircraft statistics for Whyalla[4]
Year[2] Revenue passengers Aircraft movements

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 31 May 2000, a Piper PA-31-350 aircraft, registration VH-MZK, operated by Whyalla Airlines on flight WW904 crashed in the Spencer Gulf en route from Adelaide to Whyalla. The pilot and seven passengers were killed in the accident. The pilot radioed a mayday transmission when approximately 35 NM (65 km; 40 mi) from Whyalla advising air traffic control he intended to ditch the aircraft in the water if he could not make Whyalla Airport. The last reported position was 15 NM (28 km; 17 mi) from the airport. The subsequent investigation conducted by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau found the aircraft had suffered component failures in both of its engines.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Search results for 'Whyalla Airport' with the following datasets being selected - 'Suburbs and Localities', 'Local Government Areas' and 'Gazetteer'". Location SA Map Viewer. Government of South Australia. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Fiscal year 1 July - 30 June
  3. ^ a b c d YWHA – Whyalla (PDF). AIP En Route Supplement from Airservices Australia, effective 28 February 2019, Aeronautical Chart
  4. ^ a b c "Airport Traffic Data 1985-86 to 2010-11". Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE). May 2012. Retrieved 27 June 2012. Refers to "Regular Public Transport (RPT) operations only"
  5. ^ "Vision 2020 Project:Australian Mineral Industry's Infrastructure Path to Prosperity" (PDF). Minerals Council of Australia. May 2009. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  6. ^ "Whyalla council assessing airport upgrade". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 17 September 2008. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  7. ^ Kate Bilney (20 February 2012). "Time for an upgrade". Whyalla News. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  8. ^ "Aviation Safety Report 200002157" (PDF). Australian Transport Safety Bureau. December 2001. Retrieved 18 May 2012.

External links[edit]