Cairns Airport has been crowned Airport of the Year twice in 2023, by separate leading industry bodies.
Cairns scooped the Major Airport of the Year category at last night’s Australian Airports Association (AAA) National Airport Industry Awards held in Melbourne, edging out other finalists Gold Coast Airport, Sunshine Coast Airport and Launceston Airport.
It comes just a couple of months after Cairns Airport was also named Airport of the Year at the Australian Aviation Awards, held in Sydney.
Both awards relate to a wide-ranging suite of initiatives implemented by Cairns Airport to deliver the business’ overall purpose – ‘Sustainably grow our aviation-related business to support the growth of our community’.
Cairns Airport Chief Executive Officer Richard Barker said: “The region that Cairns Airport serves is highly unique, providing us with continual opportunity for innovation.”
“We are surrounded by world-class natural assets and cultural experiences, which are highly attractive to visitors. We view it as our duty to nurture these drawcards for our community and Traditional Owners, while also supporting our region’s economy.”
“Cairns Airport has implemented a series of ambitious initiatives over the last 12 months, some which have never been done before in Australia. We are committed to growing employment, supporting our environment and fostering key partnerships as we continue to build our aviation network and serve our region’s best interests.”
Some of the Cairns Airport initiatives that led to the Airport of the Year award last night included:
- Australia-first Sustainability Linked Loan, with unique biodiversity target
- The inaugural International Business, Environment and Climate Conference (IBECC)
- Partnering with industry to deliver an Australia-first cadetship aimed at recruiting Licenced Aircraft Maintenance Engineers (LAMEs)
- The commencement of the Virgin Australia Tokyo-Haneda service, in partnership with premium carrier All Nippon Airways (ANA). This is Virgin Australia’s only direct service to Tokyo Haneda from Australia
- $55 million redevelopment of the international terminal
- Extensive inclusion on the Bonza network
- Restoration of the Jack Barnes Boardwalk, which has significant value for Traditional Owners, researchers and climate specialists
- Key partnerships such as sponsorship of Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF), which culminated in the installation of seven ‘ghostnet’ sculptures in the domestic terminal
- Launch of the Hidden Disabilities Program
“Many of these programs and commitments are game changers for Cairns Airport’s recovery and future growth, and many of them are also expected to lead to significant advancements in sustainability, employment and infrastructure,” Mr Barker said.
“The pandemic presented the biggest challenge yet to Cairns Airport and the broader aviation industry. We developed a clear strategy to ensure the ongoing operation of all essential flights, upholding our responsibility to the community and region.”
“This long-term strategy meant we retained our staff, which placed us in an advantageous operational position as the world began to reopen. These awards reflect the hard work of our airport, and our region, during the recovery period.”
“I’m very proud of the team at Cairns Airport for their commitment to the region and industry. I would also like to acknowledge the high calibre of nominations from other airports across Australia. It is clear that more great things are ahead.”
Cairns Airport also took out the Airport Excellence Award for Sustainability last night, in relation to the groundbreaking, Australia-first Sustainability Linked Loan (SLL), which features a highly unique biodiversity target for threatened species recovery.
Only one other agreement of this kind is known globally, a paper producer in Brazil. Brisbane Airport and Melbourne Airport were also contenders in this award category.