AUSTRALIA'S newest full-scale commercial airport opened at Toowoomba on Monday, ushering in a new era of passenger travel and export freight opportunities for the Darling Downs.
The inaugural flight to arrive at the new facility was a Qantaslink Dash 8 Q400 aircraft - appropriately named 'Darling Downs' - which touched down from Sydney at 8.35am and taxied to the new terminal under a shower of celebratory water cannons.
Officially known as Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport, the multi-million dollar facility was built in just 18 months by Toowoomba's Wagner family, making it the first privately-funded greenfield public airport in Australia.
Wagners chairman John Wagner, with his father and mother Henry and Mary, and his three brothers Denis, Neill and Joe, were on hand to witness the arrival of the first flight.
"To see our vision of a jet-capable airport come to life and celebrate the first flight with our first customer QantasLink, it's a moment we are all extremely proud of," he said.
The airport's 2.87-kilometre runway is capable of taking jets as large as 747s and is the second-longest regional runway in Queensland.
QantasLink will offer 11 return flights a week to and from Sydney, providing Toowoomba with double-daily services Monday to Friday and daily services on the weekend.
From the beginning of next year, regional carrier Rex Airlines will start services to regional Queensland destinations from the Wellcamp airport.
Once capacity builds, the Wagners hope to attract additional passenger services and also ultimately develop the airport into a freight export hub.