Congratulations Launceston

On 28 February 2021, we celebrated 90 years since the opening of Launceston Airport, formally known as the Western Junction Aerodrome.

The airport officially opened on 28 February 1931, with Controller of Civil Aviation, Lieutenant Colonel, H. C. Brinsmead, O.B.E., M.C., pronouncing the aerodrome open.

Around 15,000 people flocked to the airport to view RAAF Wapiti Fighters and Gipsy Moths conduct aerobatic displays as part of the opening.

Since then, the airport has grown from just six flights per week, in the airport’s first year of operation, to 400 weekly flights to five non-stop destinations.

90 years later we proudly celebrate this milestone achievement and reflect back on the airport’s history.

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1927  Formation of the Australian Aero Club, Tasmanian Section. 
1928 The Federal Government requested the Australian Aero Club to find a site for an aerodrome near Launceston. Site selected was part of the Hogarth’s Farm at Western Junction.  
October 1930 Western Junction Aerodrome is ready for use. Aero Club Hangar built.    

23 November 1930 First flight from Western Junction. A Gipsy Moth, piloted by Captain Joseph Francis.

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16 January 1931  First airline passenger flight arrived at Launceston from Melbourne. Sir Charles Kingsford Smith piloted the historical flight in the VH-UMF “Southern Cloud. The flight returned to Melbourne on January 19, 1931.
28 February 1931 Official opening of the Western Junction Aerodrome (now Launceston Airport) by Colonel Brinsmead, Controller of Civil Aviation. The day was celebrated with 15,000 people attending a public open day including an air pageant. Holyman’s donate a flagpole to the Aero Club. It was the mainmast of the of the S.S. Toroa, wrecked on Rabbit Island in the Furneaux Island Group in 1916. It remains the only above ground structure at Western Junction, present on opening day in 1931. 

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19 March 1932 Commencement of first commercial flight between Western Junction (LST) and Flinders Island. The aircraft was a Desoutter Mk11, rego VH-UEE, named Miss Flinders.

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21 March 1932 Miss Flinders undertakes first aero medical evacuation of a patient from Flinders Island to Western Junction.
September 1932 Holyman Brothers purchase De Havilland DH-83 “Fox Moth”, named “Miss Curie” and begins passenger flights from Western Junction. 
September 1932 Tasmanian Aerial Services formed after the amalgamation of the Holyman Brothers and L.M. Johnson. 
February 1933 Holyman Brothers hangar opened for Tasmanian Aerial Services, now Hangar 17.

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1936 Tasmanian Aerial Services expands and is renamed as Australian National Airways (A.N.A). Hangar 17 is extended to its current size and an upgraded passenger departure lounge and airline offices were built.

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1940 -1945 No. 7 Elementary Flying School established. It was the first RAAF training establishment to be located at the Civil aerodrome. Trained 1,800 pilots. Closes in 1945. 
1946 Airport returns to civil operation after RAAF control during WW2. 
1948   Runway upgrades for regular DC4 aircraft operations. 
1957 A.N.A is purchased by Ansett and operates as Ansett-ANA until 1968, when it is renamed as Ansett. 
1961  Investigation undertaken to determine development of the aerodrome to an Airport.
1962  Parallel Taxiway and associated works completed. 
1962  Federal government approves in principle a plan for major redevelopment of the airport. 
1963 Approval received for the strengthening of all pavements and the extension of the runway. Subsequently there was a go ahead for the new terminal and other facilities. 
1965 Major development of aircraft pavements completed. Runway strengthened and extended for B727 aircraft. Concrete taxiways and apron constructed. New terminal is built at Western Junction and the airport is officially renamed to Launceston Airport.

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1966 Miss Flinders VH-UEE Desoutter Mk11 displayed in the Launceston Airport terminal until 1997.

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1973 Main runway resealed. 
1982
Runway further upgraded to Boeing 727 standard. 
1988
Airport ownership transferred to the Federal Airports Corporation. 
1997
Miss Flinders transferred to the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery until March 2020.
 
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29 May 1998
Privatisation of Launceston Airport by Australia Pacific Airports Corporation for $18.8M. New identity launched and incorporates the name along with the trademark runway stripes.
September 1998 
The Royal Flying Doctor Service hangar completed and opened by Sir Guy Green, Governor of Tasmania (1995 - 2003).

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1999
Launceston Airport Master Plan presented for public display.

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2000 Upgrade and expansion of passenger terminal and luggage collection area completed.  
Kendell Airlines (ANSETT) commenced operations from Launceston. 
8 November 2001
Launch airport for Tasmanian operation of Virgin Blue. 
2003
Car park overlay completed. 
1 July 2003
Launceston based company, Kavihan awarded contract for food and beverage outlet. 
June 2004 
Jetstar inaugural flight from Launceston commences.

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2005
The airport’s not-for-profit vineyard bottles its first wine. ‘Altitude’ wine label is the product of a small vineyard on airport property. 

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March 2005
A second car park facility opens, expanding available parking spaced on-site by more than 70%.
2006
Launceston Airport, in partnership with the Tasmanian Aeroclub, creates a new scholarship program for young pilots in recognition of 75 years of flight operations. 
May 2007
Milestone 1M passenger movements per year on Jetstar flight JQ 735 from Melbourne to Launceston.
29 November 2007
Tiger Airways commences service to Launceston with TT7136 inaugural flight from Melbourne to Launceston. 
April 2008
Terminal redevelopment commences which is the largest infrastructure investment to take place at Launceston Airport since the original construction of the terminal building in 1965. 
15 December 2008
Virgin Blue’s inaugural flight between Launceston and Brisbane commences.

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12 March 2010 Redevelopment of the terminal officially opened by The Hon David Bartlett, Premier of Tasmania (2008 - 2011). 
2011
$4M airfield lighting project completed.
2012
$1.5M hangar redevelopment project is signed with Australian Air Express to improve freight facilities.
2012
$6M upgrade commences to the southern apron, increasing load capacity to more than 80,000kgs. 
2013
Replacement of all lighting on airport roads and within the short-term car park with more efficient and sustainable LED lighting. 
July 2013
Sharp Airlines relocates to new terminal facility and introduces new services to King and Flinders Islands. 
2015
Launceston Airport wins ‘Major Airport of the Year Award’ at the AAA National Industry Awards. 
2016
$3.5M terminal transformation completed. The terminal houses a new brand concept in airport specialty retailing including The Launceston Store, providing a true Tasmanian retail offer. The world’s first James Boag Upper Deck Bar and Restaurant opens, public seating and amenities are upgraded, and new LED lighting installed. 

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2016
Launceston Airport wins the ‘Tasmanian Tourism Award’.  
2016
Launceston Airport wins ‘Major Airport of the Year Award’ at the AAA National Industry Awards for a second consecutive year.
17 November 2017
Launceston Airport wins ‘Major Airport of the Year Award’ at the AAA National Industry Awards for third year in a row. 
September 2017
 $2.1M terminal re-configuration is unveiled. A new car park product named “$aver” is launched.
2018
Launceston Airport wins ‘Airport Innovation and Excellence Award’ at the AAA National Industry Awards.  
2018
 Launceston Airport wins Gold at the Tasmanian Tourism Awards for ‘Specialised Tourism Services’. 
29 May 2018
Celebrates 20 years of privatisation. 
2019
Launceston Airport unveils new Jetstar 737 aircraft livery promoting Northern Tasmania flying between Melbourne and Launceston airports.

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2019
Launceston Airport wins Gold at the Tasmanian Tourism Award in the ‘Specialised Tourism Services’ category for a second consecutive year.

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12 March 2020
Grounding of aircraft due to closed international borders and limited interstate air travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
26 October 2020 
Launceston Airport welcomes first travellers back after border closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
13 November 2020
Tasmanian Government commit $5.15M towards upgrading Launceston Airport infrastructure.
3 December 2020 

 Qantas inaugural flight between Launceston and Sydney. 
28 February 2021
90 years since the official opening of Western Junction aerodrome, now Launceston Airport. Miss Flinders returns to the Launceston Airport as part of the 90th birthday commemoration.