Illawarra Regional Airport (IATA: WOL, ICAO: YWOL) (or Wollongong Airport) is an airport located in Albion Park Rail, 18 km (11 mi) southwest of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia. The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) is located at the airport. The airline Jetgo offers daily jet services from the airport to Melbourne and Brisbane.
|Illawarra Regional Airport|
|Operator||Shellharbour City Council|
|Location||Albion Park Rail|
|Elevation AMSL||31 ft / 9 m|
Location in New South Wales
This airport is owned and operated by Shellharbour City Council. It is located at the intersection of the M6, Princes Highway and Illawarra Highway at Albion Park Rail. The airport is an 80-minute drive from Sydney Airport and 60 minutes from Sydney's southern suburbs. An electric rail service is available at Albion Park Rail, 900 metres from the passenger terminal, on the South Coast rail line.
The airport is home to a growing Light Aeronautics Industry Cluster, the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS), the Australian Aerial Patrol, Gyrocopter Illawarra and a range of tourism-related operations. From October 2017, the airline JetGo commenced airline passenger flights to Melbourne and Brisbane.
As early as the 1920s, aviators had used fields in the Albion Park area for pleasure flights and demonstrations. RAAF Albion Park was built in 1942 as a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Operational Base during World War II on land compulsorily acquired by the Australian Government. The base was used to conduct pilot training and was considered an important strategic asset in the defence of the Illawarra, particularly the steelworks at Port Kembla. Decorated fighter ace Clive Caldwell, a local resident, received RAAF training at the airfield. A satellite airfield was constructed north of Cordeaux Dam to support operations at Albion Park.
Following the war, Trans Australia Airlines and Australian National Airways linked the airport with Canberra and Melbourne until 1950. From 1952, South Coast Airways operated a milk run between Sydney and Melbourne with intermediate stops in Wollongong (Albion Park), Bairnsdale and Sale. Ownership of the airfield was transferred to the Shellharbour Municipal Council in 1962. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visited the airport during a 1970 tour of Australia. Also during the 1970s, Southbank Aviation introduced commuter services from Albion Park to Newcastle and Canberra. The company would later relocate operations to Sydney, but Illawarra Regional Airport remained an important facility for pilot training and aircraft maintenance into the 1980s.
In 1990, the first master plan was prepared for the Illawarra Regional Airport, providing a framework for future management and developments when Shellharbour City Council assumed full responsibility for the operation of the airport. Throughout the 1990s, development of facilities continued, including the construction of a new passenger terminal and upgrades to roads and navigation aids at the airport. Impulse Airlines operated to the airport from Melbourne and Newcastle until August 2000. In 2002, the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society began relocating their collection of aircraft to Illawarra Regional Airport from Bankstown Airport in Sydney. Their hangar was completed in 2005, along with several other major upgrades, including the strengthening and reconstruction of runway 16/34 with better lighting, enhanced security, and the opening of Shellharbour City's Light Aeronautics Industry Cluster. Coinciding with this upgrade was the commencement of Qantaslink services to Melbourne, although these were discontinued in 2008.
The primary runway is 16/34, with a paved surface measuring 1,819 m × 30 m (5,968 ft × 98 ft). A displaced threshold reduces the available landing distance on runway 34 by 176 m (577 ft) to allow aircraft to clear high terrain along the approach path. 16/34 is equipped with pilot activated low intensity runway lighting, as well as precision approach path indicator systems to assist with landings under varying conditions. The secondary runway 08/26 is suitable for day operations only as it is not equipped with runway lighting and is restricted to aircraft with Maximum Takeoff Weights less than 7,500 kg (16,535 lb).
There is no control tower located at the airport and pilots must co-ordinate arrivals and departures using a Common Traffic Advisory Frequency, aided by an Aerodrome Frequency Response Unit (AFRU), which notifies pilots that their transmissions have been received on the frequency and activates lighting systems as appropriate. The nearest radio navigation aid for pilots is the Wollongong Non-Directional Beacon installation located within the airport boundary. Fuel is available for piston, turbine and jet powered aircraft and an automated weather service also operates at the airport.
Despite the length of the runway being sufficient for operating large passenger jets such as the Boeing 737, the pavements are currently only suitable for aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight not exceeding 25,000 kg (55,116 lb). This, as well as environmental and noise issues, limits the potential of Illawarra Regional Airport as a major gateway for commercial airline operations despite its proximity to Sydney. Despite this, Qantas donated City of Canberra, a Boeing 747-400 on March 8, 2015, where it made its final landing safely on the runway. Pilots trained on simulations for the landing and reduced the aircraft's weight including reducing the tyre pressure to 120 pounds per square inch from the typical 208, and carrying 25,400 litres of fuel, versus the maximum of 217,000 litres.
On 30 October 2017, JETGO Australiabecame the first airline to operate regular passenger services from Wollongong airport since the termination of Qantaslink flights in 2008. This is also the first time that jet aircraft have been operated for scheduled passenger services. Jetgo provides daily flights to Melbourne (11 weekly returns) and Brisbane (6 weekly returns) using Embraer ERJ regional jets of 36 to 50 seats capacity.
|November 2017||2,800||RPT commenced 30 October 2017.|
|February 2018||2,858||Brisbane reduced from daily to 6 times a week.|
The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) is based at Wollongong Airport. HARS was formed in 1979 by a group of aviation enthusiasts interested in the preservation of Australian Aviation History. Its mission is "To recover and where possible restore to flying condition, aircraft or types of aircraft that have played a significant part in Australian Aviation History both in the Civil and Military arenas". Actor John Travolta recently donated his ex-Qantas Boeing 707 to the group. The plane will be flown to the airport and will receive repairs to ensure safe flying condition. HARS has restored, or acquired: