Property

REVEALED: What Coast wants in an international airport

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COASTING, Waves, Surfrider ... if we were to have a high-end passenger lounge at the expanded Sunshine Coast Airport what would you call it?

One that is unbranded so that it is open to all travellers willing to pay that little extra to relax in. Comfortable chairs, the chance to have a shower, a meal, free wi-fi, maybe even a children's lounge.

Something not connected with loyalty branding of a particular airline or bank.

The idea of a people's lounge is among a list of innovations Sunshine Coast business people would like to see included in an expanded airport at Marcoola.

Other thoughts put forward were to ensure proper transport and parking at the airport. And that there is adequate commercial infrastructure in the surrounding area for the air freight export of Sunshine Coast produce to national and international markets.

Work on the $347million international airport will start this year. The new runway and terminal is expected to take four years to complete.

The expansion is expected to have a transformational effect on business, employment and investment growth, contributing $4.1billion to the Sunshine Coast economy between 2020 and 2040.

Speaking with Sunshine Coast business people, it was clear they wanted it to be a "service airport'' ... an experience so that visitors could better enjoy their visit.

We should be able to expect it to be an outlet for produce to national and international markets.

Having alternative passenger connections instead of having to drive to Brisbane, especially flights north to Mackay, Townsville and Cairns.

Parking should include a free 10-15-minute drop-and-collect area to encourage short term pick-up.

Planning should already have started for multi-level car parking, light rail, better bus service, and vehicle energy supply point for rental vehicles.

A collaboration process involving local firms in the tender for design and documentation would help with a Sunshine Coast "flavour" - the same with local tradespeople being considered for the construction work.

Stockland regional manager Ben Simpson would like to see more regular flights to major cities such as Sydney and Melbourne throughout the whole day - morning and evenings - to make it convenient to do business. This is in addition to other tourist destinations.

Mr Simpson also sees the airport as part of an integrated freight corridor ... a logistical freight hub connecting the Sunshine Coast to the north and south.

Sunshine Coast Business and Tourism Awards chair Jennifer Swaine wants us to take a leaf out of Toowoomba's book by promoting the concept of paddock to plate for the region's produce.

An easy transport corridor to pack and stack to the dinner plate. Facilities for all of that including cool rooms and pre-packaging.

"Passenger flights need to be reliable,'' she said, "so that you are not having road traffic congestion on the Bruce Highway to deal with.''

Architect John Robertson said a good thing about the Sunshine Coast being the younger brother to Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Toowoomba airports was we could learn from the mistakes of others.

"Business people from other areas may just want to have a meeting at the airport or nearby and return the same day,'' he said. "They are coming, we have to be ready.

"With the Brisbane International Airport renovation works, you get an essence of what Queensland is like. The landscape, you get the interiors that reference the character we are.

"Visitors want to know they are on the coast, that they can taste it.''

Former business and tourism awards chair Ross Hepworth wants to ensure better transport in and out of the airport.

"We have a beautiful set of villages that have grown up in this huge rectangle. We need real innovation, how to get in and out (of the airport) easily.

"You need a trigger to inspire innovation. Getting in and out is the trigger. We need to change the transport culture.''

Topics:  airport business farm gate noosa primary industries property seafood sunshine coast tourism


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