Guide to Cairns Airport


Cairns Airport (CNS) is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Cape Tribulation, and the Daintree Rainforest, making it one of Australia's largest regional airports. Located 7 kilometers north of Cairns' CBD in Aeroglen, this international airport serves the city with seven direct international flights and seventeen domestic routes. It also supports numerous general aviation flights and helicopter operations in Far North Queensland, hosting the Royal Flying Doctor Service and State Emergency Service search and rescue helicopters. In 2019, Cairns Airport welcomed over five million passengers, ranking as Australia's seventh-busiest airport by activity and passenger volume.

Our Cairns Airport guide provides essential information on terminal facilities, driving directions, airport parking, public transport, and nearby accommodations. Read on to learn more about Cairns Domestic & International Airport with Flyparks.


How to Get to Cairns Airport

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 leads to CNS. 


Cairns Airport Car Parking

Short-term and long-term parking facilities, including 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:


Cairns Airport Car Hire

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.


Taxis at Cairns Airport

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.


Rideshare Services

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. 


Public Transport 

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. 


Airlines That Service Cairns Airport 

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:

Airlines Flying to & from Cairns Airport


Air New ZealandSeasonal: Auckland
Air NiuginiMoro, Port Moresby, Hong Kong
AirnorthDarwin, Gove
Asia Pacific AirlinesCharter: Tabubil
Hainan AirlinesShenzhen
Hinterland AviationCooktown, Kowanyama, Pormpuraaw
Jetstar AirwaysAdelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Denpasar, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Osaka-Kansai, Perth, Sydney, Tokyo-Narita
PNG AirLihir Island, Port Moresby
QantasBrisbane, Melbourne, Sydney
QantasLinkAyers Rock, Brisbane, Hamilton Island, Horn Island, Mackay, Port Moresby, Rockhampton, Townsville, Weipa
Regional Express AirlinesBamaga, Burketown, Doomadgee, Kuramba, Normanton, Mornington Island, Mount Isa, Townsville
SkytransAurukun, Horn Island, Kowanyama, Lockhart River, Pormpuraaw, Weipa, Cooktown
Tigerair AustraliaBrisbane, Melbourne
Virgin AustraliaBrisbane, Melbourne, Sydney


Redevelopment Plans Cairns Airport

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.


Facilities at Cairns Airport 

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.


Cairns Airport Lounges

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, except the Virgin Australia Lounge, which can be accessed with proof of a Virgin Australia Airlines ticket and payment at the door. 


Airport Hotels Cairns

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?




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 their official website.

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