Queensland’s successful greenfield airport, Wellcamp, is offering the Queensland Government an all in one solution to its quarantine dilemmas. The owners of the airport, near Toowoomba, just west of Brisbane, have submitted a proposal to build a 1,000 room quarantine complex next to the airport.
Getting quarantining travelers out of the city and into the fresh air
COVID vaccine or not, the Australian Government has indicated there is no end in sight for its mandatory 14-day quarantine period. That’s if you are lucky enough to score one of the few seats available on flights into the country. In addition, various state governments have imposed their own quarantine requirements after crossing internal borders. Queensland has been one of the toughest enforcers in this regard.
But police guarding quarantining travelers in downtown Brisbane hotels isn’t a great look for the Queensland Government. There’s also some concern about the health risk these travelers pose. There’s been a push to farm the quarantining travelers out to remote disused mining camps or even accommodation on Great Barrier Reef Islands. But logistical and staffing issues render many of those proposals somewhat pie in the sky.
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Ready to go within six weeks say Wellcamp’s owners
Wellcamp’s owners, the Wagner family, reckon they have the perfect compromise. Speaking to Neil Breen on Brisbane radio station 4BC on Friday, John Wagner said;
“What it entails is the international aircraft landing at Wellcamp Airport … we are an international airport. The passengers disembark and get straight on a dedicated bus or buses and get taken three minutes to the quarantine facility. They get processed there for customs and immigration and go straight to their rooms.
“The property has a lot of ambience, fresh air, balconies, and really look after them and particularly the mental health issues people have when they’re in quarantine.”
Mr Wagner reckons if he gets the green light and funding, accommodations and associated facilities could be up and running for the first 500 people in six weeks. The proposal is currently before both the Queensland and Australian Federal Governments. Besides opening up more quarantine beds to Australians struggling to get home, Mr Wagner says the facility will provide a welcome boost to Wellcamp Airport.
A boost for business at Wellcamp Airport
Construction started on Wellcamp in early 2013. By late 2014, the airport was ready to receive commercial flights. By the end of 2019, QantasLink, Rex, and Airnorth were all operating regular passenger services into Wellcamp.
Wellcamp’s Code E rated 2,870-meter runway can and does handle Boeing 747-8 freighters, including regular Cathay Pacific freighters. There is a 36,000m2 high strength apron and sophisticated ground support equipment. The secure cargo facility has the tick of approval from Australia’s Border Force and is a regulated air cargo agent screening for both United States and non-United States bound cargo.
Like most airports, 2020 saw a lot of the airline and passenger traffic dry up at Wellcamp. But the Wagner family are a pretty enterprising crew. They own a lot of land around the airport, are well connected, and know-how to get things done.
“It’s really a much bigger picture for us,” said John Wagner when asked about why he wanted to run a quarantine facility at Wellcamp. “We have had international passenger flights in the past, so we know what to do. We currently have three international freighters a week. We’re pretty good (at what we do).”
Wellcamp Airport’s proposal is before government. Mr Wagner says he’s good to go as soon as he gets the nod from them.