As someone who has spends a considerable amount of time flying and at airports, I can tell you that a poor experience can send the best-laid plans well and truly out the window, whereas a good one could make travelling an absolute pleasure.
So I was very pleased to hear last week that the Cairns Airport has been ranked in the world's top 20 best-performing small airports for the first time. The OAG Punctuality League report rates airports based on how many of their flights arrive and depart within 15 minutes of their schedule times. In the small airport category—airports that service 10 million passengers or fewer a year, and this year Cairns is expected to service in excess of five million—Cairns was rated 13th, with an average of 88.4 per cent of flights arriving and departing on time.
The category was topped by Osaka in Japan at 93.85 per cent, with Brussels second and Panama City third. Adelaide and Perth were ranked seventh and 11th respectively. This achievement reflects the fact that Cairns Airport has been focusing heavily on and investing in new initiatives that improve passenger flows and baggage handling efficiency.
Congratulations to Cairns Airport Chief Executive Kevin Brown, operations general manager Kate McCreery-Carr, and every member of their team.
It is followed today by even more new good news: the Cairns Post reports that Singaporean airlines SilkAir is so pleased with the uptake of bookings on its Singapore-Cairns route that they are now increasing the number of direct services. This is going to be a great boost to Cairns international connectivity with Asia, Europe and beyond. It is another sign that Cairns Airport continues to bat well above the average and will be a vital piece of infrastructure as this government drives its northern Australian agenda forward.
The $1 billion redevelopment of Cairns Airport, proposed over the next 20 years, will ensure that it continues to evolve as a leading hub for tourism and for the aeronautical, commerce and resource sectors. At the same time, it will provide core infrastructure that is vital for regional, state and national economic development.
Late last month our Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia, Josh Frydenberg, released the exposure draft legislation for a $5 billion northern Australia infrastructure facility. This fund will provide concessional ways to build economic infrastructure in energy, water, transport and communications and is on track for operation on 1 July this year.
The upgrade of Cairns Airport is already regularly mentioned as the type of project that would be able to access this fund, along with the Mount Isa-Tennant Creek railway, the Townsville Port expansion and the expansion of Outback Way linking Western Australia to Queensland. Momentum on our northern Australian agenda is strong and Cairns Airport stands to be a very key player.