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Alice Springs Airport is a small regional airport 14 kilometres south of Alice Springsmarker in the Northern Territorymarker of Australia.

The airport has two runways, the largest of which can accommodate a Boeing 747 or 777 landing (but not a fully laden takeoff due to high temperatures and the runway length). The only scheduled flights using the airport are domestic, although international charters do use the airport on occasions. The airport is not subject to a curfew and operates 24 hours a day.

The airport serves over 14,600 flights and 630,000 passengers per year


On 5 October 1921 the first aircraft landed at the original airport located in the Alice Springs township. Connellan Airways (later to become Connair) was based there from 1939. The military buildup in the north of Australia in the late 1930s saw the need for an airport that could take larger and heavier aircraft. This led to the construction of Seven Mile Aerodrome and the diminished role of the Town Site Drome from 1946 until its eventual abandonment in 1968. It is now the site of the Central Australian Aviation Museum.

Seven Mile Aerodrome was originally built in 1940 by the Australian Department of Defence and was used primarily by the Royal Australian Air Force and the United States Air Force, to bring troops and supplies into the area. The airport became the main transit base for RAAF transport planes during World War II. Several civilian aircraft were permitted at the airport, but during the war its primary purpose was military as a refuelling and staging facility, as the airport was strategically located near the Pacific Theater of Operations. No. 57 Operational Base Unit (RAAF) ran and maintained the aerodrome.

In 1958 it officially became Alice Springs Airport. The main runway was extended to its present length of 2,438 metres in 1961.

Units based at Seven Mile Aerodrome

  • No. 87 Squadron RAAF was based at the aerodrome for a period of time to undertake aerial topographic survey work during World War II.


During 2005-06 a total of 607,000 domestic passengers passed through Alice Springs Airport.

During the 2006-07 period there was a total of 628,000 domestic passengers.
Statistics for Darwin Airport
Year Total Passengers Domestic
2001-02 520,000 520,000
2002-03 570,000 570,000
2003-04 603,000 603,000
2004-05 603,000 603,000
2005-06 607,000 607,000
2006-07 628,000 628,000
2007-08 630,000 630,000

1972 hijacking

Alice Springs Airport was the site of the resolution of Australia's first domestic aircraft hijacking. On 15 November 1972, an Ansett Fokker F27 Friendship was hijacked after taking off from Adelaide Airportmarker. The hijacker, Miloslav Hrabinec, threatened the pilot with a rifle and demanded to be given a parachute and flown to the desert. He was convinced to allow the plane to land at Alice Springs, where he engaged in a shoot-out with Northern Territory Policemarker, critically wounding a police officer before shooting himself in the head.

1977 suicide pilot

Tragedy struck the airport again on 5 January 1977, when a former employee of Connair, Colin Richard Foreman, flew a stolen aircraft into the Connair offices (formerly Connellan Airways) located at the airport, killing himself and two of the airline's engineers instantly. A woman working in the offices received severe burns and died five days later. The aircraft was a B58 Beechcraft Baron stolen from Wyndhammarker in Western Australiamarker. Foreman's last words were a quote from the opera Madama Butterfly: "Death with honour is better than life without honour".


On 1 April 1989 the Federal Airports Corporation (FAC) assumed control of the airport. On 10 June 1998, the Government of Australia granted a 50 year lease plus a 49 year option to Northern Territory Airports Pty Ltd. Northern Territory Airports is 100% owned by Airport Developments Group (which also operates Tennant Creek Airportmarker). Northern Territory Airports Pty Ltd has 100% ownership of Alice Springs Airport Pty Ltd (along with the Darwin International Airportmarker).



Busiest Domestic Routes out of Alice Springs Airport
(Year Ending August 2009)
Rank Airport Passengers (Thousands) % Change
1 Melbourne Airportmarker 138,800 100.0
2 Adelaide Airportmarker 52,800 100.0

Busiest Domestic Routes out of Alice Springs Airport
(Month of August 2009)
Rank Airport Passengers % Change
1 Melbourne Airportmarker 12,500 12.6
2 Adelaide Airportmarker 11,000 100.0

* Melbourne route became competitive from May 2008

* Adelaide route became competitive from April 2009

Airlines and destinations

Airlines Destinations Terminal
Qantas Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney 1
Qantas operated by QantasLink Ayers Rock/Uluru, Cairns, Darwin, Perth 1
Tiger Airways Australia Adelaide, Melbourne 1

Virgin Blue

It is speculated that Virgin Blue, which ceased operations to Sydney in November 2004 and to Adelaide in September 2005, may make a return to the red centre using its new Embraer E-Jets. As of February 2008, nothing has been confirmed with Virgin Blue having not made an official announcement regarding the return.


  1. Annual 2005-06 Report
  2. Domestic airline activity

External links

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