The runway at Kalgoorlie-Boulder Airport in Western Australia’s Goldfields region is undergoing its first major upgrade since 1993, as officials push for the return of an eastern states air link by the end of the year.
- Repairs to the runway at Kalgoorlie-Boulder Airport are expected to be completed in May
- It is the first significant upgrade of the runway since the council-owned airport was commissioned in January 1993
- A total of 241,149 passengers passed through Kalgoorlie-Boulder Airport last financial year, down from a record 305,102 in 2018-19 before COVID-19
Resurfacing works, worth $3.7 million, are being carried out over the next month and are set to extend the life of the runway for another five to seven years.
The works are not expected to cause any flight cancellations or delays.
It buys the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder valuable time as it is still facing an estimated $20 million bill to overlay the runway surface in the future.
Kalgoorlie-Boulder Mayor John Bowler described the cheaper option to extend the runway’s life as “common-sense”.
“It will give us time to build up our airport reserves, so by the time we do the big work and the expensive work, there will be no impost on the ratepayers,” Mr Bowler said.
“It’s a big saving and it extends the life of the assets that we’ve got.
No impact on flight schedules
The City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder awarded the contract to Fulton Hogan in December for what is known as “surface enrichment sprayed treatment” works.
The area being repaired covers more than 220,000 square metres across the main runway, taxiways and the smaller airfield used by light aircraft.
Fulton Hogan operations manager Jason Huppatz said the emulsion product was a 1-2mm layer on top of the existing tarmac.
He said it was unusual for a runway to go without a major upgrade for so long, but it was “still in really good condition”.
Mr Huppatz said a 12-person crew was completing the works and he was adamant there would be no impact on flights.
“We’ll be working around flights,” he said.
“It needs good conditions [to dry] but we can put down a layer and you can be trafficking that layer in two hours.”
Push for eastern states air link
With flights from Melbourne to Busselton Airport in WA’s South West beginning this week, Mr Bowler also spoke about the possibility of an eastern states route returning to the city.
Virgin Australia’s direct flights to Melbourne were suspended when COVID prompted the introduction of tough border restrictions and eventually forced the airline into administration.
Qantas previously ran direct flights between Kalgoorlie-Boulder and Adelaide, but the route was axed in 2014 due to poor ticket sales.
“I believe as people get used to travelling again that [Melbourne flights] will come back onto the timetable,” Mr Bowler said.
“Wouldn’t it great if we have Kalgoorlie-Adelaide return and Kalgoorlie-Melbourne return?
“A lot of people then would find it very easy to come here knowing they have a quick direct flight home to their family and loved ones.”
Airport’s new master plan
Mr Bowler said he was not concerned about which airline operated an eastern states route and he wants it sooner rather than later.
The viability of other intra-state routes, including Busselton and Esperance, are also being investigated as part of the airport’s new Master Plan, which is set to be completed later this year.
The expansion of the main runway – currently 2 kilometres long and 45 metres wide – will also be considered to accommodate larger aircraft.
The master plan will also consider a possible expansion of the Ron Yuryevich Terminal, which was renamed after Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s long-serving Mayor in 2015.