Cairns Region Guide

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Cairns Airport

Updated: 05-Feb-2014

The Cairns Airport is located between Cairns City and the Northern Beaches and is only a 10 minute maximum drive from the city centre. 

The Cairns Airport has a Domestic and International Terminal. 

Shopping and Dining outlets are available. 

The Cairns Airport is a 25 minute drive South of Trinity Beach and a 35 minute drive South of Palm Cove.  Allow an hour when travelling between Port Douglas and the Cairns Airport.  If you are travelling in an airport shuttle bus it will take a lot longer due to the pick-ups and drop-offs along the way. 

If you are travelling with 2 or more people into Cairns City it is more cost effective and convenient to take a taxi.  A taxi fare costs around $20 and taxi's meet all flights.  Maxi Taxi's are also available.   Maxis will take up to 9 passengers.  Taxis are available for accommodation transfers and are readily available at both the International and Domestic terminals.

Over 3 million passengers pass through Cairns Airport's Domestic Terminal.  There are direct domestic flights to Brisbane, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Darwin and Townsville as well as to Alice Springs and Ayers Rock (Uluru) and regional centres.  

Cairns Airport is Australia's seventh busiest in terms of international passengers with direct flights from Auckland, Tokyo, Osaka, Hong Kong, Guam, Shanghai, Port Moresby and to Singapore, via Darwin. 

Facilities at both the international and domestic airport include ATM's, Currency Exchange, Car Hire Desks, Post Office, Baggage Storage & Shopping & Dining options.

Airport transfers to Port Douglas are available but need to be pre-booked.  Send an enquiry with your flight details including flight number, airline and arrival time and we can make these arrangements outside 48 hours notice. 

Please see the Cairns Airport Website for further information.




Qantas & QantasLink 13 13 13 Brisbane, Darwin, Melbourne, Sydney, Alice Springs, Ayers Rock, Gladstone, Gove Mackay, Horn Island, Thursday Island, Townsville, Weipa, Hamilton Island

Jetstar 13 15 38 Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne,Sydney, Perth

Virgin Australia 13 67 89 Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Townsville 

Skytrans 1300 759 872 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              1300 759 872      end_of_the_skype_highlighting Lockhart River, Aurukun, Coen, Palm Island, Kowanyama, Pompurraw, Bamaga, Mt Isa

Hinterland Aviation (07) 4040 1333 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (07) 4040 1333      end_of_the_skype_highlighting




Air New Zealand 132476 Auckland

Air Niugini 1300 361 380 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              1300 361 380      end_of_the_skype_highlighting Port Moresby (with connections to Lae)

Airlines PNG 1300 002 764 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              1300 002 764      end_of_the_skype_highlighting Port Moresby

Cathay Pacific 13 1747 Hong Kong

Jetstar 131538 Narita/Tokyo, Osaka,Singapore (via Darwin)

QantasLink 13 13 13 Port Moresby

Virgin Australia 13 67 89 Auckland

United Airlines 1300 737 640 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              1300 737 640      end_of_the_skype_highlighting Guam

Onward connecting flights are available to numerous other worldwide destinations, from the direct ports served. 

Many of our International Airlines codeshare with other international Airlines.

Terminal Information

Cairns Airport is Australia's leading regional airport, providing air links to a range of domestic and international locations.

A major redevelopment of the Domestic terminal was compeleted in 2010 to facilitate these growing passenger numbers.

Domestically, Qantas, Jetstar, Tiger Airways and Virgin Blue all operate out of Cairns, which now has scheduled services to all mainland state capital cities as well as various regional locations.

Cathay Pacific, Jetstar, Air New Zealand, Continental and Air Nuigini take up the international routes providing access to a variety of international locations from our International terminal.

Airport History

1928 Cairns Airport goes back to 1928 when Tom McDonald started flying his Gypsy Moth off a sand ridge near the present airport. He could only land and take off between high tides. During one emergency, Tom was forced to take off from beer barrels.

1934-1937 1934- The people of Cairns started raising money to build an airport where aircraft were able to land and take off at all times, particularly in times of emergency.

1936- The Cairns City Council bought 162 hectares of land and built three runways made of cinders, red earth, weathered rock and sand.

1937- The Australian Government bought the airport during World War II for use by the Royal Australian Air Force. The Main runway was sealed and made longer for the RAAF aircraft.

1943 Runway first sealed.

1949 The main runway was lengthened to 1730 metres to accomodate larger aircraft.

1962-1967 The airport was upgraded and the runway lengthened to 2020 metres and stregthened so jets could land.

1970-1974 The number of aircraft flying to Cairns increased. TAA and Ansett provided regular scheduled services to most Australian capital cities and also Papua New Guinea.

1975 Air Niugini was the first international service to commence flights out of Cairns to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea.

1980 The significant increase in aircraft traffic and passengers lead to overcrowding of facilities. The need for expansion prompted the Government to hand the airport over to local ownership.

1981 The Cairns Harbour Board, which managed the Port of Cairns, agreed to expand its interests and take control of the airport. The Commonwealth Government provided funding for expansion. The Harbour Board subsequently changed its name to Cairns Port Authority (CPA) and assumed control of Cairns Airport under the Airport Local Ownership Plan in December.

1982 Commencement of Stage I Redevelopment. This involved further lengthening of the runway to 2600 metres (making it the longest runway in Queensland) and construction of a new terminal building.

1984 Completion of Stage I. Official opening of dual International and Domestic Terminals on 31 March.

1986-1987 New Fire Station Facility constructed by Commonwealth Government.

1988 CPA withdrew from the Airport Local Ownership Plan, taking full fiscal responsibility for the airport. Stage II development works commenced.

1990 Stage II works completed. This included a new separate International Terminal, associated aprons and taxiways costing an estimate of $80 million.
Completion of main runway extension from 2600 to 3196 metres.
Australian Pilots' dispute.
Airservices Australia Control Tower.
Qantas Flight Catering.

1992-1995 1992- International Apron Bay 5. Qantas Flight Catering Expansion.
1993- Taxiway G2. Bureau of Meteorology.
1994- International Apron Bay 1.
1995- International Apron Bay 6. Taxiway B5. Domestic Apron widened.

1996 Southern Eastern Levee extended.

1997 Completion of Stage IIIA Redevelopment. Within this redevelopment, a three storey Airport Administration Centre was constructed providing 4000 square metres of office space.
Domestic Apron Bays 11-14.
Domestic Car Park extended.

1999 Australian Customs Dog Unit.

2000 Airport Lighting Equipment Room 15 Runway
Aircraft Turnaround Engineering.
Avis Car Park.

2001 Australian Airlines started and Cairns is announced as the airline's hub.
Ansett Australia went into voluntary administration on 14 September.

2002 CASA Building.

2003 America declared war on Iraq 20 March 2003. Lead up to the war saw a decrease in passengers.
Intermational Terminal Building IQI expansion.
International Apron Bays 7 & 8.

2004 Queensland Transport Minister Paul Lucas officially opens stage one of the Cairns International Airport Terminal Redevelopment.
Hawker Pacific Hangar.

2005 Queensland Transport Minister Paul Lucas officially opens stage one of the Cairns International Airport Terminal Redevelopment.
Hawker Pacific Hangar.

2006 The Australian Association of Airports National Conference is Held in Cairns, hosted by CPA.
Central Services Building - Staff Car Park expansion.
GA Staff Car Park.
Separate Fire Main.
CPA celebrates 100 years.

2007 Cairns International Airport implement new security requirements.
General Manager of Cairns Airport, Kayleen Collins is appointed to the Queensland Tourism Board.
Cairns Airport Tropical Ambassador Program begins.
Cairns Airport welcomed 5 new aircraft parking bays and extended taxiways.
Deputy Premier, Anna Bligh announces contract for $135 million redevelopment of Cairns Airport. Work commences in August.

2008 Premier Anna Bligh announces Cairns Airport is to be sold.
Cairns Airport hosts the 3rd Airports Council International Asia Pacific Regaional Assembly Conference & Exhibition.
Jetstar make Australia's first landing of an A321 aircraft at Cairns Airport.
The Royal Flying Doctor moves to new premises in General Aviaiton.
First stage of Domestic Terminal Redevelopment opens.

2009 North Queensland Airports group purchases Cairns Airport and Mackay Airport. Cairns Airport Pty Ltd now operates Cairns Airport.
Cairns Airport becomes the first airport in Australia to be fully equipped for bar-coded boarding passes.
New Domestic Terminal Common-User Check-In completed.
2010 Cairns Airport Domestic Terminal Redevelopment completed and officially opened 29 September.

Please see the Cairns Airport Website for further information.

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