TAMWORTH Regional Airport was agonising close to hitting 200,000 passengers in 2017, however council is confident it will fly past the milestone this year.
A total of 198,516 travellers passed through the airport last year, a yearly increase of 3.5 per cent, while there were 5668 aircraft movements, up 5.4 per cent.
Had QantasLink not reduced its number of flights in the last two months of the year – a network-wide move by the airline to reduce the number of cancelled flights – Tamworth may well have surpassed 200,000 passengers.
But with QantasLink due to return to its usual 72 flights a week, Fly Corporate bring in bigger aircraft while doubling its Tamworth-Brisbane flights and the $4m terminal upgrade which was recently started, Tamworth airport manager Julie Stewart says the big milestone will be reached with ease.
Last year capped off another big year of growth for the airport, which has seen passenger numbers rise more than 34 per cent in the last five years.
“When I started here five years ago, we were at around 150,000 passengers, now we’re almost at 200,000,” Ms Stewart said.
“Since we’ve commenced security, which was in 2012, we’ve had over a million passengers pass through this terminal.
“That’s a phenomenal amount, and that’s not counting friends and family that are dropping off and picking up, that’s just the people travelling.”
The rapid growth has Tamworth airport teetering on the edge of becoming the darling of regional aviation.
“We’re still climbing, Tamworth hasn’t hit its straps yet it,” Ms Stewart said.
“You’ve got airports like Dubbo and Port Macquarie, which are probably in the range of what we’re metering towards. But we’re on track to grow beyond that.”