Cairns Airport, Townsville Airport, Mount Isa Airport: closed or open?

By John Walton , February 3 2011
Cairns Airport, Townsville Airport, Mount Isa Airport: closed or open?

Cairns Airport has announced that "no significant structural damage has been sustained from Tropical Cyclone Yasi overnight".

Official information from Far North Queensland is understandably focussing on damage reporting and emergency response, so Australian Business Traveller has contacted the airport authorities in Cairns, Townsville and Mount Isa to find out the very latest on closures and reopenings.

Cairns Airport

Australian Business Traveller has learned from an airport spokeswoman that Cairns Airport has reopened to emergency flights only. 

After an initial examination at 0900 this morning Cairns time, the airport is currently assessing the impact on its systems. 

The airport's Cyclone Committee is meeting to determine when the airport can reopen, and is expected to make a further announcement around 1130 Cairns time.

Townsville Airport

Safety warnings from the government to stay inside prevent staff returning to Townsville Airport. "Townsville is our critical base right now because we are trying to get it re-operational for military and emergency aircraft," an airport spokeswoman told us.

RAAF Base Townsville is on the same site as the civilian airport and is likely to see significant use in the relief and recovery efforts, as it did following Cyclone Larry in 2006.

Mount Isa Airport 

A spokeswoman has told us that regional mining hub airport Mount Isa is open, though all flights to Cairns and Townsville have been cancelled. Despite earlier rumours to the contrary, the spokeswoman confirmed that Qantas flights to and from Brisbane and Airnorth flights to Darwin and Gold Coast continue to operate, but QantasLink, Rex and Skytrans have cancelled all flights.

Mount Isa airport authorities are monitoring the cyclone wind speed predictions for later today from the Bureau of Meteorology and will make further announcements about whether the airport will stay open. While the spokeswoman we spoke to wasn't yet able to tell us when the airport might close, it's a safe bet that if Category 2 cyclone winds for Mount Isa materialise, a closure will be likely.

Further updates

Most airlines have waived their usual fees for changing flights for travellers affected by Tropical Cyclone Yasi. We've contacted all the major airlines and have a full roundup of their policies, with dates and the relevant terms and conditions

Business travellers overseas who are concerned about the situation back in Queensland can watch ABC News 24 streaming video online since ABC has lifted the "geoblock" preventing computers abroad from watching the news channel. 

After the geoblock is put back in place, our guide on how to watch Australian TV while overseas shows you how to get around the restriction using a VPN (virtual private network).

Australian Business Traveller will continue updating our news with specifics for the business traveller community at ausbt.com.au and on Twitter: @AusBT

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.


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