10 May 2023

Rutted Cape York runway poses flight risk

| Samuel Davis
Start the conversation

A supplied image showing the depth of some ruts in the Bamaga Airport runway.

A “DANGEROUS” Cape York airstrip could lead to fatalities if urgent repairs aren’t carried out soon, local leaders say.

Built during World War II, Bamaga airport’s rutted runway connects the Northern Peninsula Area to Cairns with around a thousand takeoffs and landings expected this year.

But the most recent technical inspection found the strip is in “poor condition” with major upgrades desperately needed.

Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch, who met recently with NPA council, said the estimated $15 million project should be funded by the state and federal governments.

“It’s dangerous and it’s only going to get worse,” the MP said.

“I would think a 50-50 arrangement would be fair.

“I had an agreement that it would be done if we returned to government.

“There are a few thousand people living up there. They have every right to a safe, accessible airstrip. Are we going to wait until somebody dies?”

With roads often inaccessible during the wet season, NPARC mayor Patricia Yusia said communities could be stranded if the runway was shut down.

“CASA is telling us it’s becoming critical and it gets raised every wet season,” Cr Yusia said.

“It would be a disaster for NPA people if it closed.

“We need to strip the runway back and then rebuild it.”

Earlier this year, Rex Airlines provided NPARC with a letter of support to include in grant funding applications for a runway upgrade.

“Rex prides itself on its commitment to safety and the proposed upgrades at Northern Peninsula Airport will only strengthen the safety of Rex’s aircraft, operations and passengers,” state manager Steve Jones said.

Cr Yusia raised the status of the airstrip with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Senator Nita Green during the PM’s visit to the Torres Strait earlier this month.

“The Albanese government is committed to delivering the infrastructure Australians need after nearly ten years of rorts and waste,” Senator Green said.

The airport services the five NPA communities of Bamaga, Umagico, Seisia, New Mapoon and Injinoo.

Start the conversation

Cape York Weekly

Subscribe to get the latest edition of Cape York Weekly in your inbox each Monday.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Cape York Weekly's terms and conditions and privacy policy.