Gympie region councillors have unanimously backed Sunshine Coast airport expansion plans, which would mean direct flights between Mudjimba and Asia.
Gympie region councillors have unanimously backed Sunshine Coast airport expansion plans, which would mean direct flights between Mudjimba and Asia. Contributed

Up, up and away as Gympie rides Sunshine Coast airport boom

THE neighbours at Mudjimba may be worried about upgrade plans for Sunshine Coast airport, but Gympie councillors say increased international tourism via Maroochydore will be "all good" for Gympie region.

The plan has enthusiastic support from the Sunshine Coast business community, particularly its significant tourism sector, but is opposed by nearby residents who fear noise and other problems from increased big-jet air traffic over their homes.

Gympie councillors have now pledged their support for Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson and the $347 million expansion plan he is promoting.

"It's all good," Gympie region Mayor Mick Curran said yesterday.

"We backed the airport plan because of the economic benefits for our region," he said.

Cr Curran said he had received a letter seeking council support from Cr Jamieson, who had also contacted other Wide Bay Burnett councils.

"It's all part of working co-operatively with other councils in the area," Cr Curran said.

He said the proposed expansion would enable big international jets to link our part of the world with the rest of it.

"They have direct flights to New Zealand now

"There is the opportunity for direct flights now to the US and Asia."

Cr Curran said he understood the planned runway re-alignment, to accommodate extensions for international flights, would mean less noise for about 5000 residents, by taking them out of aircraft flight paths.

It would also mean 80 to 100 extra jobs, he said.

Deputy Mayor Larry Friske was similarly enthusiastic. "It's a great idea to have an international airport at the coast," he said.

Cooloola Coast councillor Mark McDonald said Gympie region support would be important.

A revised Environmental Impact Statement for the $347 million project is open for comment until Monday week.

"The Sunshine Coast has come a long way and it's better for our region as well.

"We would be mad not to support it," she said.