The extension of the Hervey Bay Airport runway in 2005 cost $15 million.
The extension of the Hervey Bay Airport runway in 2005 cost $15 million. Contributed

Region celebrates $15m airport investment a decade on

TODAY marks 10 years of jets landing and almost two million passengers arriving through the gates of the Hervey Bay Airport.

On this day in 2005 Brian Jessett was one of the first people to disembark from the first Virgin Australia plane to land at the airport.

Brian had flown to Sydney for a work meeting and was lucky enough to get a seat on the first flight to Hervey Bay.

"It was an exciting time being on the first jet to land at the airport," he said.

"Virgin Australia gave us champagne on the flight and a special red t-shirt emblazoned with their logo and the date of the inaugural flight."

Ten years after the move to invest $15 million in the expansion of the runway to cater for 737 jet aircraft and expand the airport terminal, the gamble has paid off.

Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O'Connell said there were now 11 jet services a week, which far exceeded the three services a week originally hoped for.

"In the past 10 years about 1.8 million passengers have passed through the terminal flying on the Virgin jets to Sydney, QantasLink to Brisbane and charter flights to Lady Elliot Island," he said.

"The number of passengers jumped from under 40,000 a year to almost 150,000 in the first year.

"Last financial year 179,000 passengers passed through the terminal."

With the council's aviation portfolio, Cr O'Connell said he was pushing for even more flights to come in and out of the Fraser Coast in the future.

"We believe there is room for more services and are always talking with the airlines about offering more services to new destinations," he said.

Passengers on the Virgin flight today will be met by the mayor and councillors, and will receive a small gift to welcome them to the region.

The current site of the Hervey Bay Airport was gazetted as a Reserve for Aerodrome purposes in 1963.

TEN YEARS OF THE AIRPORT

  • The runway expansion cost $15 million in the early 2000s
  • Since 2005, 1.8 million passengers have been through the Fraser Coast Airport
  • Last financial year 179,000 passengers passed through the terminal


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