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Plans are underway for the Sunshine Coast Airport to become Australia’s newest international airport.

Proposed plans include a 2430 metre runway, new passenger & baggage processing terminal, further development of the aviation business precinct, new retail facilities and expansion to the existing public transport network. Sunshine Coast Airport General Manager Peter Pallot said plans are hoping to be approved mid this year to begin works in 2016 to be fully operational by 2020.

The new runway would be able to cater for existing B737 and A320 without limitations and the addition of the Airbus A330 and Boeing 787. This would open the Sunshine Coast to direct flights from as far away as America and Dubai.

The main priorities for the expansion are the domestic Australian and the increasing New Zealand markets. Mr Pallot says the existing length of the runway restricts even domestic services. Currently cities like Perth and Darwin are out and even Sydney and Melbourne are sometimes load constrained on some days. With the Auckland flights, we can land a full aircraft of 168 passengers, but we can only take off with 139 due to the short length of the runway. The longer runway would enable fully laden 737’s to take off full of passengers with enough fuel to access cities across the country and beyond.

The total cost of the Sunshine Coast Airport expansion – including the runway, taxiways, apron and terminal upgrades was expected to be $347 million. Mr Pallot said that was offset by a $4.1 billion boost to the Sunshine Coast economy over the first 20 years, with more than 5000 jobs generated throughout the community.

According to the EIS, the new runway would decrease noise levels in 13 suburbs, to the north and south of the airport. Only residents of Mudjimba and Yandina Creek could expect an increase in aircraft noise.