Special Interest Matter - Launceston Airport
Tuesday 31 August 2021
Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, today I speak about Launceston Airport, the gateway to Tasmania’s north. At this time, it is slightly unusual to talk about air travel for obvious reasons, but anyone who might not have had the chance to visit the airport in a while might be surprised with what they find.
Today, I speak about some of the great work that has been done at the airport to showcase the wonderful things Tasmania has to offer, especially to our domestic and, in time, international visitors. Being an island state, under usual circumstances, air travel is critical to the Tasmanian economy with almost 90 per cent of travellers using scheduled air services for transit to the state.
In 2019, Launceston Airport facilitated the travel of over 1.4 million people. That number is considerably greater than we saw in 2020 and will see for the rest of 2021. However, I say this to emphasise how important it is to make positive, meaningful and lasting impressions on those who enter our state at any time.
This is also why Launceston Airport will be integral to Tasmania’s ongoing recovery from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. In previous years, it has been estimated the airport directly contributes $81 million in outputs to the northern Tasmanian regional economy, while the airport precinct itself provides employment for around 400 people from the northern Tasmanian region, generating $44 million worth of value to northern Tasmania. The sooner we can return to these circumstances, the better it will be for the northern region and for everyone living and working there.
In February this year, the airport celebrated its 90th anniversary, 90 years of aviation history made right here in our backyard. According to the airport’s website, Launceston Airport, formerly known as the Western Junction Aerodrome, officially opened on 28 February 1931 with the Controller of Civil Aviation, Lieutenant Colonel H.C. Brinsmead pronouncing the aerodrome open.
In its inaugural year, there were just six flights a week. Under usual non-pandemic circumstances, it now offers travellers up to 400 weekly non-stop destinations. I encourage anyone interested in the airport's history to take a look at some of the resources on the airport website as there are some fabulous tidbits that really show the amazing work that has happened there since 1931. In recent years, the airport has had major upgrades in the way it looks, functions and cares for passengers. The food and drink available - especially at the boutique James Boag Upper Deck bar, which provides a distinctly representative local selection of food and drink, making waiting at the airport much less of a chore and more a part of the travelling experience.
The Launceston Store sells a combination of the typical books, magazines and newspapers along with uniquely Tasmanian items, including lavender products from Bridestowe, clothing and gifts.
The car park, too, has had an upgrade with improved signage and organisation making it easy to get around as soon as you set foot out of the airport. Being only a ten-minute drive from town gives people the option to travel where they need to, when they need to, whether they live in Tasmania or not. This was evidenced recently by the AFL footballers flying in and flying out on the one day. I am sure it was quicker than getting to Melbourne Airport from many of their homes.
Some may recall last year my speech on Miss Flinders, a Desoutter Mk. II monoplane which was on display at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, but was looking for a new home. Built in 1933, the Miss Flinders flew passengers to the Bass Strait islands. It was recently announced it will go home to be on display at Launceston Airport, representing a powerful juxtaposition of the old and new of our history and future. The revamped terminal with a bright, airy feel is extremely welcoming to visitors and gives a warm farewell to those who are leaving.
So much incredible work has been done at the airport over the past few years and the job is not over. We still have a long way to go in the recovery and rebuilding efforts in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic in Australia. Launceston Airport will be integral to that process. It was great to hear direct flights will be commencing from Launceston to Adelaide and I look forward to direct flights from Launceston to Perth in the not too distant future.
Northern Tasmania has so much to offer its visitors and, as we compete for tourists in the coming months and years, it is vital our airport continues to project a welcoming presence and highlight everything great we have to offer.