Uncertain skies ahead for Mackay Airport
FOR Mackay Airport general manager Garry Porter the next six hours were as difficult to predict as the next six months.
With unprecedented lockdowns on travel, new sweeping restrictions and flight cancellations announced each day, Mr Porter said it was impossible to know what the regional airport was facing into the future.
Virgin Australia this week announced it would be slashing its domestic capacity by 90 per cent, cutting all flights to Hamilton Island Airport and Whitsunday Coast Airport as well as 17 other destinations.
It follows similar decisions by Jetstar, which cut all flights to Hamilton Island and Mackay, and Qantas, reducing the number of services it operates in this region.
Despite the government ordering all non-essential travel to halt, Mr Porter said the airport would be able to keep the tarmac open.
"We're positioned better than other airports," he said.
"We're expecting to see services continue."
With FIFO workers for the mines, hospitals and farms moving through Mackay Airport, Mr Porter said there was enough business from essential travellers.
And with medical transfers, mail, and overnight freights moving in and out, he was cautiously optimistic the airport could remain open without commercial passenger flows.
Even if FIFO movements stopped, the airport could stay open, he said.
But Mr Porter did not deny that the next six months would hurt.
For now, Mr Porter said all airport staff could do was focus on the safety of all staff.
Earlier this month, on March 9, Mackay Airport was hit with a health scare when a passenger tested positive for COVID-19.
Mr Porter said the airport was co-ordinating with other stakeholders, enforcing social distancing rules and best practice hygiene protocols to reduce any risk of coronavirus spreading in the terminal.
"We're not making decisions in isolation," he said.
"We understand the situation."
"We will do everything we can to maintain access."