Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport nearing completion

An artist's impression of Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport.
An artist's impression of Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport. Photo: Supplied

South-east Queensland's next major passenger runway is set to be completed in three months, but it is being built 130 kilometres west of Brisbane Airport.

Work on the Wagner family's Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport, about 17 kilometres west of Toowoomba's CBD, has been running around the clock since construction started early last year.

Work on the passenger terminal's foundations began this week and the 2.87-kilometre runway is on track to be completed by April.

An artist's impression of the terminal at Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport.
An artist's impression of the terminal at Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport. Photo: Supplied

Outside of Brisbane Airport's main 3.5-kilometre runway and its planned 3.3-kilometre parallel runway, Wellcamp will be home to south-east Queensland's longest landing strip.

It will also be the first privately funded major public airport in Australia.

"It's certainly not a philanthropic exercise," Wagners chairman John Wagner said.

A photo of the Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport in November.
A photo of the Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport in November. Photo: Shayne Cantly

"It's owned by the Wagner family and run by the Wagner family and funded by the Wagner family – we haven't got 1¢ of government support.

"We expect it will be a good investment in the longer term. It's a multigenerational asset for the family and typically at Wagners we don't take a short-term view on profitability.

"We take a long-term view on asset value."

The planned layout of the Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport terminal.
The planned layout of the Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport terminal. Photo: Supplied

Mr Wagner said he expected major commercial flights to fly in and out of the airport by September.

He would not be drawn on the cost, other than to say it was "well north of $100 million".

"Brisbane's second runway's going to cost $1.3 billion," Mr Wagner said.

"We're nothing close to that. We're much more economical, plus we're building it ourselves with all our own equipment, so there's no subcontractors making much of a profit on the way through."

The airport will be able to cater for Boeing 747s, although planes of that size are unlikely to be regular visitors to Toowoomba.

Smaller planes, such as the Boeing 737s and Airbus A330s operated by Qantas and Virgin Australia on domestic routes, are more likely.

"We are in discussions with all the airlines about commencing services out of Wellcamp late this year," Mr Wagner said.

Details of those discussions were commercial in confidence, he said, but Mr Wagner remained confident the airport would be able to make a commercial case for the major airlines.

"Toowoomba is the second biggest inland city in Australia, with a population of 165,000," he said.

"We've got a catchment area, excluding Ipswich and its surrounds, of 344,000 and we don't have an airport."

Toowoomba regional mayor Paul Antonio said although Brisbane West Wellcamp was being built primarily as a passenger airport, there were wider economic implications for the region.

"This will change agriculture," he said.

"There are people coming into my office now talking about setting up milk factories and flying milk into Indonesia and into Asia."

"There are people coming into my office talking about flying beef per planeload from Toowoomba, where we've got abattoirs and massive feedlots.

"We've got it all here and it's just a matter now of joining the dots."

Cr Antonio acknowledged concerns about the speed of the approval, saying it was code assessable when it was approved under the auspices of the old Jondaryan Shire Council, meaning it was "pretty much tick and flick".

But Cr Antonio said he had received no formal complaints regarding the airport, which he said had "95 per cent support" in the community, although some concerns had been referred to the Wagner family.

Queensland Tourism Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said he did not expect Brisbane West Wellcamp to reduce the use of Brisbane's main airport.

"There will be some passengers who might take advantage of direct flights from Toowoomba to Sydney, for instance, who might have usually gone through Brisbane," he said.

"But I think the bulk of the change is going to be the additional opportunity that arrives with this new piece of infrastructure, including for Brisbane Airport."

The Wagner family, with its background in cement, has owned the airport site since 1994, when it bought it for use as a quarry.

Along with the airport, the company is building a large business park.

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