Qantas will use new Queensland airport

The first aeroplane with Queensland Premier Campbell Newman lands  at Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport.
The first aeroplane with Queensland Premier Campbell Newman lands at Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport.  Photo: Glenn Hunt

Qantas has become the first major airline to sign on to fly out of Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport, nearing completion near Toowoomba, with the airport's owner throwing down the gauntlet to Brisbane Airport.

Wagners chairman John Wagner, whose family company was building the airport, said Wednesday's announcement was "just the start".

Mr Wagner said he wanted to take existing business away from Brisbane Airport.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman being welcomed by members of the Wagner family
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman being welcomed by members of the Wagner family Photo: Glenn Hunt

"Absolutely we do (but) they won't notice it," he said.

"You've got to keep in mind if we got to a million passengers a year, which I think we will in pretty short order over the next couple of years, that will be similar to a Mackay or a Newcastle.

"Brisbane has 22 million passengers and at the moment they're congested … so we're here to help them out actually."

Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport which is in the final stages of development near Toowoomba.
Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport which is in the final stages of development near Toowoomba.  Photo: Glenn Hunt

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman and QantasLink chief executive John Gissing flew into the airport on Wednesday for the announcement.

Mr Newman welcomed the development, which had not cost taxpayers a cent, along with the competition for Queensland's main airport.

"It is great to have competition," he said.

"Competition means better service and lower prices and this airport will be in competition with Brisbane Airport and I say that is a healthy thing that's good for consumers and people will have a choice."

QantasLink, Qantas's regional arm, will use Bombardier Q400s that can accommodate 74 passengers and fly up 2519 kilometres on its initial routes to and from Sydney.

There will be two daily weekday flights out of Wellcamp – at 5.20am and 9.35am – with return flights departing Sydney at 8.50am and 6pm.

One flight will leave Toowoomba at 7.30am Saturdays, with the return weekend flight at 6pm Saturday.

Brisbane West Wellcamp is the first privately built public airport in Australian history, with no financial assistance from any level of government.

Mr Wagner said his family had invested heavily in the project – "it's closer to $200 million than $100 million, unfortunately," he said – and he hoped to have more airline announcements soon.

"Just watch this space," he said.

"It's going to be important that we sell the product and change people's behaviour so instead of driving two and a half hours to Brisbane Airport that it currently is, they will come here and support the airlines that are operating here."

It is understood Brisbane West Wellcamp is also speaking with Virgin Australia.

Mr Gissing said it was fitting the services would start on November 17, the day after Qantas's 94th anniversary.

He said the Q400 turboprop's flight time from Toowoomba to Sydney would be less than two hours.

"It's just the right aircraft for this market, we believe, for the start-up," Mr Gissing said.

Mr Newman said, as well as the tourism benefits, local industries would be well served through air freight.

Mr Newman said it was "surreal" to see the airport nearly completed after just 18 months.

The airport's 2.87-kilometre runway would be capable of landing a Boeing 747, which Wagners managing director Denis Wagner said was a possibility in the shape of a cargo plane.

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