Rockhampton Airport shuts down

ROCKHAMPTON has an airport with no planes. And it looks as if one of the busiest regional airports in Australia could be out of action for 20 days.

The last aircraft, a Virgin Blue 737, left for Brisbane on time at 1.45 on Saturday afternoon.

David Goldsmith was one of the last to leave the terminal after waving off his brother Christopher who cut short his Christmas holiday to ensure he could get back to Hamilton, New Zealand.

“It was a full flight and he bought the last ticket on Friday afternoon,” said David.

“This is so strange. The sun is shining and everything looks normal but this is the last flight for who knows how long.”

Outside, an SES crew was putting the finishing touches to a metal flood barrier around the terminal and other airport buildings before locking up.

Stuart Tovey, the general manager of Rockhampton radio stations HOTFM and SEAFM, got the last plane back into Rocky before the airport was closed.

“From the air you could see the water creeping closer to the edge of the runway.

“The plane was remarkably empty. We didn’t know if it was going to be possible to get back or not. I’m sure a lot of people will have been caught out.”

Acting Superintendent David Peff said police had now imposed a ban on all aircraft using Rockhampton airspace.

“With the closure of the airport, airspace is now restricted to emergency helicopters within a radius of six nautical miles of the city.

“We have very limited fuel supplies,” he said.

The main runway has water over the southern section and although there is no flooding yet in the terminal, it will take days to get the airport running once the water has subsided.



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