Torres Shire Council
- To lead, provide & facilitate
HORN ISLAND AIRPORT
HORN ISLAND AIRPORT
FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND
Horn Island Airport, owned and operated by Torres Shire Council,
Torres Strait, Far North Queensland, needs urgent funding to
enable main runway, minor runway (part) and parking & transit
area to be strengthened to overcome surface damage with
Estimated funding required is approx. $3.0 million.
The Horn Island Airport plays a vital role as the primary regional transport hub and stepping
stone for aircraft movements not only to the 15 populated outer Torres Strait Islands but to
Papua and West Papua as well as the Indonesian Archipelago. Being the port of
disembarkation for aircraft movements from Cairns, the airport services the following
Northern Peninsula Area (N.P.A), Torres Strait Island Communities between Bamaga
and Daru, Papua New Guinea.
The following Australian airports are serviced from Horn Island.
1. Badu 7. Poruma
2. Bamaga 8. Boigu
3. Kubin 9. Saibai
4. Mabuiag 10. York
5. Murray 11. Warraber
6. Darnley 12. Yam
Thursday Island is the government administrative hub for the
region and has over 36 federal and state offices located on it
with a further 40-45 offices within the Torres Strait.
These include essential services such as Police (Federal &
State), Australian Customs and Border Protection Service,
Dept of Defence, Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service,
Dept of Immigration, Queensland Health and
Queensland Fire Service.
The transportation of government officers to maintain these
services account for more than 65% of passengers.
There are no other feasible passenger
transport systems, such as road, rail or sea,
between our nearest metropolitan city (Cairns
located 1,000kms away) and the Torres Strait.
Air transport is the only practical connection
with the Australian mainland.
The aerodrome operator and licensee is the
Chief Executive Officer, Torres Shire Council.
The aerodrome is licensed and maintained as a
"Licensed International Aerodrome" and consists of two
1. RWY08/26 (Length: 1389 x Width: 30 metres) and
2. RWY14/32 (Length: 1235 x Width: 23 metres).
RWY08/26 is equipped with runway lights and PAPI (Pilot
Activated Path Indicator).
DAMAGE TO AIRPORT
A report from SKM (Sinclair Knight Merz Consulting
Engineers) has revealed serious damage to the pavement to
the degree that the risk assessment carrying on with the Q400
aircraft revealed a Medium to High risk; possibly that further
damage may cause a crash or serious incident.
This degree of risk is unacceptable to currently sustain
continuous use of the Airport runway.
The report revealed that rutting has occurred on the main
runway from the western end 08-26 to the intersection of 14-
32 which is used as the taxi way for the larger aircraft
including the Q300 and Q400.
TYPICAL CROSS SECTION
08-26 RUNWAY CH 1000-3290 NTS
Taxiway from Runway 14-32.
Rutting has occurred in several locations.
Rutting from intersection to holding point
Runway 08-26 RHS.
Serious depressions caused by rutting
hold water which owing to the pavement
cracking can enter the sub base.
Seal delaminating from pavement.
LHS as detailed previously. Rutting
continuous through to Threshold 08-26.
Threshold Runway 08-26
Rutting continuous from 08 to intersection
Runway 08-26 – LHS
Emulsion has been sprayed from 08-26 to
intersection 14-32. This is only a
temporary measure to preserve the
pavement and sub base.
Runway 08-26 – RHS
Details as above.
14.32 - RECENT FLOODING
This runway section below requires future elevation
and relaying of sub-grade and pavement.
Sinclair Knight Mertz (SKM) have been employed to look at
the following and report back:
Detailed Geotechnical investigation of both runways and Apron
A Scope of Works to
- Strengthen Runway 08-26
- Strengthen Part Runway 14-32 which is taxiway to 08-26
- Strengthen Apron (Parking and Transit Area)
Estimate for all of the above, including both length proposals.
ESTIMATE OF COSTS
20 years life.
Two layers of asphalt over length of full runway, minor runway (part),
parking & transit area.
Must be used to enable the airport to be kept open by utilising Displaced
Will provide a safe and non restrictive runway which will not require any
major upgrade expenditure for the next 20 years.
SUMMARY OF FUNDING
Department or Agency Approved Amount Possible Further Action
Queensland Transport $2.0 million TSC lobby for additional grant funding
Torres Strait Regional Authority $400 K TSC lobby for additional grant funding
Federal Govt. election promise (RASP $680 K TSC, TSIRC, NPARC and TSRA lobby
program) Federal government for additional grant
RLCIP $250 M – First round funding $100 K
(Regional & Local Community
Torres Shire Council $260 K
Torres Shire Council Loan $1.0 million TSC increase loan borrowing, but there is
limitation due to small rates base
TOTAL $4.4 million
Less Estimated Costs $7.0 million (to be confirmed)
SHORTFALL Approx. $2.6 million
HEAD PASSENGER TAX
In its 2009/10 Budget, Council increased the passenger head tax by
$5.60 to $25.00 per head with CPI increases to be applied in subsequent
With approx. 70,000 Qantaslink passengers per year, a total of $300,
000 from 1st October 2009 would be available to be initially allocated
towards this project and then a determined amount be applied towards
loan repayments in following years.
The airport administration process does not enable the local domestic
passengers total to be monitored with a view to charging a head tax;
as all other flight operations are charter work.
The low socio-economic base of the Torres Strait must be taken into
account when Council and the community’s ability to fund such an
expensive project is analysed.
DEFENCE MEMORIAL PROJECT
Council considers that Horn Island airport’s historic significance in the
defence of Northern Australia during WW2 presents an excellent case for
the Airport being dedicated as a Defence Memorial which would
commemorate a war effort that should be recognised and made known to
all Australians and overseas visitors.
Horn Island was bombed 8 times (with over 500 bombs being dropped) between
1942 and 1943. This airport was also used for reconnaissance until the end of 1944.
COMMITMENTS TO COMMUNITY
The long overdue but necessary airport runway upgrade and extension
works will provide the Torres Strait / NPA Region with a safe air service in
larger and faster planes which are required to allow this region to
maintain a similar transport mode which is provided for the rest of
Australia, as well as ensuring long term continuation of services and
provision of anticipated regional growth
The main reasons for regional and community air transport include:
* Freight * Health
* Government * Tourism
* Economic Development * Schooling
* Personal * Essential Services
* Mail * Employment / Training
Horn Island Airport is a vital regional airport in a vast area of 49,000 square
kilometres and is absolutely essential for modern day transportation within the
Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area (Cape York) region.
The main mode of transport is by regional and local aircraft. It must be
emphasised that the small islands are separated by large distances of ocean.
Other than the mainly slow and dangerous boat travel, air is the only effective and
efficient transport service.
A modern airport is vital to enable the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area
to access essential government and commercial services and to continue to
function as a developing and international border region.
The strategic location of the airport enables the region to host and launch new
knowledge, incentives and initiatives for the continuing growth and development of
the Torres Strait and neighbouring South East Asian and South Pacific partners.
Torres Shire Council seeks your earnest consideration of providing
funding to enable this most important upgrade/extension project to
Council looks forward to discussing all aspects of this project with you;
with a view to initiating a funding partnership.
Council urges your support to lobby your relevant State and Federal
ministers and departments to ensure that this imperative project comes to
fruition within the shortest possible timeframe.
OTHER RELEVANT POINTS
Torres Shire, with a small population of 4,000 residents, is unfortunately
in a precarious financial position to entirely fund a $7.0 million project of
A similar runway damage situation has occurred in other regional
airports. One particular airport which has over 10 times this Shire’s
population has overcome its problem through finance due to being a
vibrant mining, industrial, service and tourist centre.
With the current erratic weather patterns caused through climate
change; sea levels, cyclones and other natural disasters are significantly
on the rise. In the case of a major disaster in the Torres Strait region and
Western Province of Papua New Guinea, Horn Island would be the
launching pad of emergency relief services.
Mayor Pedro Stephen states:
“The airways are our highways; our only feasible access to the outside world.
It must be emphasized that the small Torres Strait islands
are separated by large distances of ocean.
To continue to function as a developing and international border region, Horn
Island Airport is vital to enable the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area
to be serviced by essential government and commercial services that are
required for proper functioning of the region.
Council strongly believes that the funding of this essential airport project
would be a perfect example of the Federal Government demonstrating how
the “Close the Gap” aspiration for indigenous people could be
achieved in the Torres Strait region.”
TORRES SHIRE COUNCIL
Torres Shire Council through community consultation, will focus on the
promotion of community values, together with the improvement of the quality
of lifestyle whilst ensuring efficiency of servicing and protection of the