The gateway to the spectacular Great Barrier Reef, Cape Tribulation, and the Daintree Rainforest, Cairns Airport (CNS) is one of Australia’s largest regional airports. The international airport serves the city of Cairns in Queensland, and is located 7 kilometres north of the central business district in the suburb of Aeroglen. Seven direct international and seventeen domestic flights currently depart from Cairns Airport, alongside a multitude of general aviation flights and helicopter operations to regional locations in Far North Queensland, with the airport serving as a base for the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the search and rescue helicopters of the State Emergency Service. Just over five million passengers travelled through Cairns Airport in 2019, making it Australia’s seventh-biggest airport based on aviation activity and passenger movements.
Our guide to Cairns Airport has been designed to provide useful information regarding terminal facilities, driving directions, airport parking, public transport access, and nearby accommodation options. Read on to find out more about Cairns Domestic & International Airport with Flyparks.
There are several transport options for getting to and from Cairns Airport, to suit most needs and budgets. Passengers can access Cairns Airport by car, car hire, taxi, shuttle bus, limousine transfer or rideshare, with parking, drop-off, and pick-up zones located close to the terminal buildings. Many of these services can transfer passengers to nearby hotels, the city centre, the Northern Beaches, Palm Cove, Port Douglas, and Cape Tribulation, and can be pre-booked online, using the CairnsTaxis, Uber, Need a Ride, Excellence Coaches, or Cairns Bus Charters websites.
Directions: to get to the airport from central Cairns, drivers should head north on Sheridan Street for approximately five kilometres, before turning right onto Airport Avenue, which leans to CNS.
Short-term and long-term parking facilities, including a covered parking and disabled parking, are located within the public car parks adjacent to both the Domestic and International Terminals. These car parks are owned and maintained by Cairns Airport, and advanced booking is possible through the Flyparks website. For more information about Cairns Airport parking, the T1 Budget Car Park International, the T2 Uncovered Car Park Domestic, and the T2 Covered Car Park Domestic, you can consult our various blog articles, including:
There is an extensive choice of car hire options at Cairns Airport, for both international and domestic travellers. There are six car hire companies with offices on-site, including Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Redspot, and Thrifty. Car hire can be arranged inside both the T1 and T2 Arrival Halls, and there are car rental return car parks outside of the Domestic and International Terminal buildings.
Only regulated taxi services for the Cairns Region are able to drop-off and pick-up passengers at the airport. Each terminal has its own sheltered taxi rank, which is monitored 24/7 by the Cairns Taxis Booking call centre. There are free intercom call buttons at each rank, which connect directly with the call centre. The fare to/from central Cairns is approximately $25.00 - $30.00 in each direction.
There is a dedicated rideshare pick-up zone at both Terminal 1 International and Terminal 2 Domestic. The zone at T1 can be found at the eastern end of the terminal building, to the right of the bus pick-up area, whereas the zone at T2 is located at the northern end of the public pick-up lane. More information about rideshare service and even where to find the Uber pickup point, can be found in our blog.
There is no direct connection between Cairns Airport (CNS) to Cairns city centre via public transport. To reach the city from the airport, it’s possible to take a shuttle to Palm Cove, then walk to Williams Esplanade at Caryota Street, before taking the line 110 bus to Cairns City Bus Station. However, this could take close to two hours and is not recommended for those with heavy luggage.
Cairns Airport is served by 15 airlines, which fly to over 25 destinations in Australia, Oceania, and Asia. The following carriers operate to the following destinations:
|Air New Zealand||Seasonal: Auckland|
|Air Niugini||Moro, Port Moresby, Hong Kong|
|Asia Pacific Airlines||Charter: Tabubil|
|Hinterland Aviation||Cooktown, Kowanyama, Pormpuraaw|
|Jetstar Airways||Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Denpasar, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Osaka-Kansai, Perth, Sydney, Tokyo-Narita|
|PNG Air||Lihir Island, Port Moresby|
|Qantas||Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney|
|QantasLink||Ayers Rock, Brisbane, Hamilton Island, Horn Island, Mackay, Port Moresby, Rockhampton, Townsville, Weipa|
|Regional Express Airlines||Bamaga, Burketown, Doomadgee, Kuramba, Normanton, Mornington Island, Mount Isa, Townsville|
|Skytrans||Aurukun, Horn Island, Kowanyama, Lockhart River, Pormpuraaw, Weipa, Cooktown|
|Tigerair Australia||Brisbane, Melbourne|
|Virgin Australia||Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney|
Redevelopment work on the Domestic Terminal started in August 2007, and was completed in 2010. As part of the $200 million project, check-in facilities were expanded into a common-user facility for all airlines, and the building was enlarged. A second $55 million redevelopment of the Cairns Domestic Terminal was started in August 2019, to add an additional 2,000 square metres of space, plus additional seating and shops, and to reconfigure the terminal to better suit the 40% growth in passenger numbers forecast over the next seven years.
In February 2020, Cairns Airport's chief aviation officer Luis Perez reported that he was in talks with 22 airlines to connect Cairns to destinations in North America, Korea, Taipei, Malaysia, the Middle East, India, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
Cairns Airport has two passenger terminals, on the eastern side of the main airport building. The terminals are hosted in two separate buildings 200 metres from one another. Terminal 1, the International Terminal has six jet bridges and ten gates in total, whereas Terminal 2, the Domestic Terminal, has five jet bridges and seventeen gates.
The airport is open at 4.00am, or two hours before the first flight of the day, and closes after the last flight of the night. It is not possible to stay at the airport overnight, and passengers will be asked to leave the terminal buildings. There are however, numerous facilities and services at Cairns Airport, from airline lounges, a smoking area Cairns Airport, baby changing rooms to lost property. We’ve put together a quick rundown of each facility below:
ATMs: are available throughout Cairns Airport, in both terminals. The machines are operated by ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, and China Construction Bank. ATMs can be found in T1 Departures, T1 Arrivals, T1 Pre-Immigration & Security, T2 Departures, T2 Arrivals, and T2 Check-in.
Baby Care Facilities: parent's rooms are available at most of the public bathrooms in both terminals.
Baggage Trollies: are available free of charge in T1 Arrivals (pre-Customs), and can be hired for $3.00 elsewhere in the airport.
Currency Exchange: Travelex currency exchange kiosks can be found at the Terminal 1 Departures Lounge and Arrivals Hall, and the Terminal 2 Departures Lounge.
Duty-Free Shopping: is available in the International Terminal, Arrivals, and Departures Lounge. International passengers can purchase clothing, accessories, souvenirs, books, and cosmetics, at tax free prices.
Food & Beverages: can be purchased in both terminals. The small selection of cafes and fast food outlets are open according to the daily flight schedule.
Lost Property: is held at the airport. If you believe you have lost something in the terminals or one of the car parks, you should contact Cairns Airport via their official website.
Luggage Storage & Lockers: Self-service luggage lockers Cairns Airport are available for rent near the T2 Uncovered Car Park, via cash payment only. Prices start at $6.00 for 3 hours for small lockers, and $10.00 for 3 hours for large lockers.
Pharmacy: over the counter medications such as cold and flu treatments, travel sickness medication, and ibuprofen can be purchased at the Health & Beauty Express in Terminal 2.
Showers: can be found in the airport lounges.
Wi-Fi: Free Wi-Fi is available at Cairns Airport; passengers in T1 International can access the internet free for up to one hour, while passengers in T2 Domestic can access the internet free for up to 30 minutes. Additional time and data can be purchased at additional cost, starting at $3.00 per hour.
There are three options for Cairns Airport lounge, including the Qantas Club, the Reef Lounge, and the Virgin Australia Lounge. These are restricted to members only, with the exception of the Virgin Australia Lounge, which can be accessed with proof of a Virgin Australia Airlines ticket and payment at the door.
It’s not possible to sleep in the airport building overnight, however there are several hotels near the airport. Passengers can choose between the Calypso Inn Backpackers Resort (five minutes from the airport), the Lakes Cairns Resort & Spa (five minutes from the airport), and the Coral Towers Holiday Suites (eight minutes from the airport).
Before booking one of these options or reading more about hotel accommodation near Cairns Airport, why not check out our guide to the best cheap flight and hotel booking sites?
Flyparks is a popular online comparison service, which enables you to compare and book safe, affordable parking spaces at a variety of airports. You can use our website to compare, reserve, and pay for parking at all major airports in Australia and New Zealand. We conduct extensive research into the various on-site and off-site parking facilities available, and request feedback from travellers, to ensure that customers can safely park their vehicle and travel with peace of mind.
Air travel can be stressful, but how you start your journey can make all the difference. Flyparks hopes that our airport and airport parking guides can at least make travelling to and navigating the airport as smooth as can be. On our website, you’ll find all the information and tips you need to have a better airport parking experience. Forget long queues, overpriced car parks, and full lots. Book your parking in advance with Flyparks, and find the best rates and location to suit your budget and particular situation.
Please note that the information above is provided for reference only, and does not constitute as travel advice. For the most recent and relevant information about Cairns Airport, you should check the official website.