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.
|Operator||North Queensland Airports Group|
|Serves||Cairns, Queensland, Australia|
|Elevation AMSL||10 ft / 3 m|
Source: AIP Enroute Supplement
passenger and aircraft movements from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE)
The airport has direct flights to 7 international and 17 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 State Emergency Service. 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.
Another $55 million redevelopment of the Domestic terminal started in August of 2019. An additional 2,000 square meters is being added to expand the terminal to 10,000 square meters. This is to prepare the airport for 6 million passengers by 2027. Additional seating, shops, and reconfigure the terminal to better suit the 40% growth in seven years.
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 destinationsEdit
|Air New Zealand||Seasonal: Auckland|
|Air Niugini||Moro, Port Moresby|
|Airnorth|| Darwin, Gove |
|Alliance Airlines||Canberra (begins 23 October 2020), Sunshine Coast|
Charter: Ayers Rock, Century Mine, Cloncurry, Groote Eylandt, Trepell, Weipa
|Asia Pacific Airlines||Charter: Tabubil|
|Hinterland Aviation||Cooktown, Kowanyama, Pormpuraaw|
|Jetstar||Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Denpasar, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Osaka–Kansai, Perth, Sydney, Tokyo–Narita|
|Qantas||Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney|
|QantasLink||Ayers Rock, Brisbane, Hamilton Island, Horn Island, Mackay, Port Moresby, Rockhampton, Townsville, Weipa|
|Regional Express Airlines||Bamaga, Burketown, Doomadgee, Karumba, Mornington Island, Mount Isa, Normanton, Townsville|
|Skytrans||Aurukun, Cooktown, Horn Island, Kowanyama, Lockhart River, Pormpuraaw, Weipa|
|Virgin Australia||Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney|
|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.
- "Aerodrome Chart – Page 1: Cairns, QLD (YBCS)" (PDF). Aeronautical Information Publication. Airservices Australia. 20 August 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 February 2016. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
- PDF). AIP En Route Supplement from Airservices Australia, effective 21 May 2020 (
- Airport traffic data Archived 14 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine
- "History". Archived from the original on 11 August 2015. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
- "Redeveloping 5th Busiest Airport" (PDF). Australian National Construction Review. 9 December 2009. Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 April 2014. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- Howard, Rebecca (11 January 2010). "Auckland Airport buys stake in North Queensland Airports". The Australian. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- Calcino, Chris (1 February 2020). "Future Tourism: Cairns Airport needs to decide where to next". The Cairns Post. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
- Cairns Airport terminal information Archived 14 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine retrieved 25 May 2011
- "Air New Zealand Converts Auckland – Cairns to Seasonal Service in 2014". Airline Route. 24 April 2014. Archived from the original on 24 April 2014. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
- "New airline for Canberra Airport with a double destination service". Canberra Airport Group. 25 September 2020.
- Alliance Airlines adds new direct route to Far North, Newsport, 18 June 2020
- "Hainan Airlines adds Shenzhen – Cairns from Dec 2017". routesonline. Archived from the original on 1 September 2017. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
- "Cheap Flight Specials and Airfare Deals in Australia and Abroad – Jetstar Airlines Australia". Jetstar. Archived from the original on 23 May 2015. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
- "New Jetstar flights between Cairns and Osaka- Local Cairns News". cairns.com.au. 1 December 2009. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
- "QantasLink to Resume Daily Flights Cairns-Port Moresby-31 March 2019". 14 December 2018. Archived from the original on 10 April 2020. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
- "Rex announces new Cape York route". Archived from the original on 7 July 2015. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
- "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 8 May 2012. Refers to "Regular Public Transport (RPT) operations only"
- Fiscal year 1 July – 30 June
- "Australian Domestic Domestic aviation activity 2017-18". Bitre.gov.au. March 2019. Archived from the original on 2 April 2019. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
- "International Airline Activity 2017-18". bitre.gov.au. October 2018. Archived from the original on 2 April 2019. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
- "International Airline Activity Annual Publications" (PDF). Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE). May 2017. Archived (PDF) from the original on 3 August 2017. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
Media related to Cairns Airport at Wikimedia Commons