Cairns Airport Parking

At least 2 hours prior to plane take off
Minimum of 30 minutes after plane lands

Cairns Airport Parking

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Cairns Airport parking

There are three car parks at CNS. The T1 Budget parking area is the only one serving international passengers. The other two serve domestic customers and are known as ‘T2 Covered’ and ‘T2 Uncovered’.

Cairns Airport Parking Cost

Car ParkTransfer time (mins)Daily Rates From
T1 International Value Car Park - Onsite - Uncovered - Cairns Airport$11.00
T2 Domestic Parking - Onsite - Uncovered - Cairns Airport$11.00
Premium Parking - Covered - Onsite - All Terminals - Cairns$26.29

Outdoor parking

T1 Budget is an outdoor parking area, just 1-3 minutes' walk from T1 and 5-10 minutes to T2 via a 1,640-foot (500-metre) walkway. It's free to park there for 10 minutes or less. After this, you will pay different rates for stays of 10-30 minutes, 30-60 minutes, 1-2 hours and 2-3 hours. You then incur a small charge for each additional hour up to one whole day. There are also different rates for stays of 1-2 days and 2-3 days. Beyond this point, you pay a fee for each additional day (or part thereof).

Covered parking

The T2 Covered car park comes with a cyclone-rated shelter to protect you from sun and rain. This 'premium' parking area provides 20 per cent more space per bay than its uncovered alternative. It takes just a couple of minutes to walk from T2 Covered to the Domestic arrivals area.

You may park here free of charge for 10 minutes or less. After this, you pay different rates in small increments up to 2-3 hours. After three hours, you must pay an additional charge for each hour you stay in the car park up to 24 hours. For stays of longer than 24 hours, there are rates for stays of 1-2 days, 2-3 days and 3-4 days. You then pay a fee for each additional day (or part thereof) after four days.

Drive-up rates for the T2 Covered car park are charged in the same timeframes as the other two on-site parking areas up to 2-3 hours. You then pay a set fee for a stay of 3-24 hours, followed by different prices for stays of 1-2 days and 2-3 days, with an additional fee each additional day after this point.

Guide to Cairns Airport

  • +61 7 4080 6703
  • Airport Ave, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia
  • Free WiFi in T1 for 1 hour per 12-hour period, Free WiFi in T2 for up to 30 minutes per 12-hour period

Cairns Airport (CNS) is the seventh-busiest flight hub in Australia. It serves as a base for domestic, regional and international flights with 14 commercial airlines, including Qantas, Virgin Australia and Cathay Pacific. The airport offers flights to all major cities and tourist destinations across the country and is also a base for the State Emergency Service and the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia. A total of 4.7 million passengers passed through CNS from 2015 to 2016.

Location of Cairns Airport

CNS is located in the aptly-named suburb of Aeroglen, 2.6 miles (4.3 kilometres) north west of Cairns and 4.3 miles (seven kilometres) to the north of the city's central business district (CBD). The airport sits between Trinity Bay in the east and Mount Whitfield in the west.

A daily airport shuttle service runs between Cairns Airport and the city centre. There are also daily coach services connecting CNS with Port Douglas and Palm Cove.

History of Cairns Airport

The Cairns Airport story began in 1928 when local aviation enthusiast, Tom McDonald, was often seen flying his de Havilland Gipsy Moth from a sand ridge near the current site. In 1934, people in the local area started raising funds to build runways that would allow aircraft to take off and land safely on a frequent basis.

Two years later, Cairns City Council bought 400.3 acres (162 hectares) of land and laid down three runways using abundant natural resources in the tropical climate of Northern Queensland, including red earth, cinders, sand and rock fragments. The Federal Government bought the airport during World War II for use an RAAF base and the runway was sealed in 1943.

Civil operations resumed after the war and the runway was extended to one mile (1.7 kilometres) in length to accommodate larger aircraft. Between 1962 and 1967, the runway was lengthened further to allow jets to land on the site.

As passenger numbers increased during the early 1970s, Ansett and Trans Australia Airlines began offering frequent scheduled flights from CNS to most major Australian cities. In 1975, Air Niugini became the first airline to offer flights from Cairns to Papua New Guinea and by 1980 it was clear that the existing facilities at CNS couldn’t handle the sharp rise in traffic. After the Australian government handed the airport over to local ownership, major redevelopments started in 1982 and continued throughout the decade.

Improvements during this time included the addition of a new ‘dual’ terminal serving both domestic and international passengers and two runway extensions. Building work on a separate International Terminal began in 1988 and was completed two years later. A further revamp in 1997 saw the construction of an airport administration office with 43,055 square feet (4,000 square metres) of office space across three levels. A further overhaul started in 2007 and took three years to complete at a cost of AUD200 million. These improvements included the expansion of the Domestic Terminal and the addition of a common-user facility for use by all airlines offering flights within the country.

Airport facilities

The facilities at Cairns Airport include lots of convenient and interesting ways to pass the time before your flight.

If you’re just looking to relax, you’ll find places to kick back and unwind with a meal and a glass of wine or beer. There’s a fast-food joint, a gourmet sandwich shop, a bar, cafés, premium coffee shops and more on-site.

You can also buy books and magazines to keep your mind occupied. There are plenty of chances to stock up on health and beauty products, travel accessories and clothing to help you stay looking and feeling fresh during your trip.

Facilities at Cairns Airport include:

  • Short-term parking

  • Long-term parking

  • Budget parking options

  • Transfers

  • Information desk

  • Shopping

    • High-street brands

    • Newspapers and magazines

    • Books

    • Convenience food

    • Duty free

  • Food

    • Fast food

    • Cafés

    • World food

  • Drinks

    • Bar

    • Coffee shops

  • Toilets

  • Baby-changing facilities

  • Currency exchange

  • Club lounges

  • Trolleys

  • Hotels

Cairns Airport hotel and parking

The Lakes Cairns Resort gives you a choice of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments surrounded by 11 acres (4.5 hectares) of lush, green landscaping. Each room comes with high-quality appliances and furnishings, in addition to separate living and dining areas, and you can wander along the hotel boardwalk and take your pick of four luxury swimming pools. There’s also a spa pool, sauna, floodlit tennis court, barbecue areas and a playground for small children and, as if that isn’t enough, you get free undercover parking and complimentary Internet access in the reception area. The Lakes Cairns Resort is just a five-minute drive from CNS via Airport Avenue.

The Cairns Sheridan Hotel promises luxury at an affordable price. The spacious modern rooms all feature bathrooms and air conditioning and you can take advantage of a mini-bar, tea- and coffee-making equipment and free WiFi (as long as you book directly). You’ll also find a self-service laundry room, a pool, gym and free self-parking. Driving down National Route 1 and Airport Avenue takes you from the Cairns Sheridan to Cairns Airport in just four minutes.

Reef Palms is a motel offering self-contained accommodation for business travellers, couples or families. While the motel is just a five-minute drive from CNS, its quiet location and tropical vibe offer a refreshing change from the noise and commotion of the busy airport. During your stay, you get access to free WiFi and a large landscaped pool with a barbecue close by. There’s even a kids’ wading pool to keep the little ones amused while you let off steam, while executive guests can also make use of the fax and photocopying facilities. A free shuttle service takes you to Cairns’ financial centre (CBD) or to CNS. Free parking is available on-site and it takes just five minutes to drive from the resort to Cairns Airport via Lake Street/Airport Avenue.

Top things to do in Cairns Airport

Get all you need to hit the slopes, waves and reefs

As the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is a great place for adrenaline junkies and the owners of Surf Dive ‘n’ Ski shop decided to name their outlet after three of the city’s favourite pastimes. Inside, you’ll find the newest clothing and footwear from all the leading names in the worlds of surfing, diving, skiing and skating. Brands include Vans, Billabong, Element, Tigerlilly, VonZipper, RVCA and more.

As sponsors for some of Australia’s best surfers, the guys at Surf Dive ‘n’ Ski have a wealth of expertise and are well-placed to help you choose the right gear before you hit the waves.

Search for the little things that make all the difference

Cairns Airport has plenty to choose from when it comes to health and beauty products. Health & Beauty Express provides over the counter medicines to relieve travel sickness or cold and flu symptoms and it also sells a large range of skincare products and fragrances.

Eye Love offers a range of high-end designer sunglasses to make sure you look the part as you embark on your holiday in the sun and you can head over there for great prices on sunglasses by the likes of Jimmy Choo, Rayban, Prada, Oakley, Kate Spade and more.

If you've got health and beauty covered but you need something to keep you amused during your flight, Link (T2) and Relay (T1) both offer a good selection of magazines, books, toys, snacks, sweets, batteries, pens and notepads.

Grab a reminder of your time down under

Cairns Airport isn’t short of souvenirs for sale. From boomerangs to cuddly kangaroos, koalas to Ugg boots and even Driza-Bone coats, you’ll discover a long list of items with a uniquely Aussie vibe.

The Australian Produce Store stocks homegrown health products, macadamia nuts, honey, jerky, dairy, biscuits and gourmet food from in and around the local area. Whether want to buy a gift for a friend or you’d just like a token to help remember your time in Cairns, you can pick up something that captures the essence of the area.

Get tropical

Due to its location in the far north of Queensland, Cairns has a tropical climate and serves as a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, so it’s only fitting that two of the shops at CNS encourage you to get in touch with your exotic side. Head to Discover Tropical North Queensland to browse aboriginal artefacts that reflect Australia’s unique culture, landscape and plant life or discover Galerie Tropical, where you’ll find clothes, jewellery and accessories inspired by the local landscape and climate.

Did you know that Australia provides nearly all the world’s opals? Pop into Galerie Tropical to see a collection of these rare gems up close.

Find perfect gifts at bargain prices

Aelia Duty Free is open to all international fliers and sells a huge range of premium goods at bargain prices. The store lets you treat yourself, a friend or family member to an aromatic Johnny Walker whiskey, a vintage Moët & Chandon or a taste-bud-tingling bottle of Bombay Sapphire.

You can also choose from fragrances or skincare products from Dior, Lancôme and Viktor & Rolf. Many of the products on offer at Aelia are exclusive to the CNS store, so if you're in the mood for bargain hunting, make sure you pop in.

Top things to do near Cairns Airport

See one of the Seven Wonders of the World from above

GSL Aviation is one of a few local companies providing flights over northern Queensland and the company's Great Barrier Reef Scenic Flight is a thrilling 40-minute expedition over Australia’s great natural wonder.

The Great Barrier Reef is made up of 2,900 reefs and 900 islands. In fact, the reef is so large that it’s actually visible from the moon. Seeing it from above really brings home its awesome beauty and scale and with a guaranteed window seat for the best views, you’ll be able to learn more about the area during the in-flight commentary from your pilot. After exploring the reef, you’ll head back towards Cairns for more breath-taking aerial views of Green Island, Palm Cove, Arlington Reef and Cairns itself.

Explore a tropical paradise just minutes from the airport

The Cairns Botanic Gardens are home to some of the best displays of tropical plants in Australia. Come to this oasis to learn more about tropical flora and fauna, explore their beauty up close and spend some time relaxing as you breathe in the serene atmosphere. This place is awash with ferns and orchids, as well as a wealth of unusual birds and butterflies.

Take a self-guided walk and pick up pamphlets to find out about the role of tropical plants in Aboriginal culture and the evolution of the plant kingdom in Australia. For a glimpse of just how beautiful these gardens really are, Cairns Regional Council lets you take a virtual tour on its website.

Take the cableway through the rainforest

No visit to Cairns is complete without taking a ride on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. You’ll begin your journey suspended high above the lush green rainforests in Cairns before the cableway takes you on a 4.7-mile (7.5-kilometre) route to the sleepy mountain village of Kuranda. During your journey, you glide above the canopy of this World Heritage Site in a gondola cabin with a glass floor, providing an awesome aerial view of the forest below.

When you finally reach Kuranda, you’ll immediately see why many consider this lovely little village one of the treasures of northern Queensland. Its many sights include Birdworld and the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary and from Kuranda you can take a forest walk to the spellbinding Barron Gorge.

Afterwards, you get the choice of returning by cableway or via the Kuranda Scenic Railway. The latter option provides yet more stunning views, as it snakes its way through tunnels and bridges with thick rainforest on all sides.

Visit Australia's only Japanese arts and arms gallery

Samurai Gallery Australia stakes a claim to being the only Australian museum offering real insight into the arts, armour and arms of the ancient Japanese warrior class. In feudal times, the Samurai were the highest-ranking members of society. Come here to see unique pieces of art, weaponry and other artefacts from hundreds of years ago.

While Japanese arts and arms might not be the first thing you'd expect to find in a historical gallery in tropical Australia, the Samurai Gallery is a great day out for history buffs. If you have any interest in world culture or history, you’ll find that the exhibits there are second-to-none within their field.

Immerse yourself in aboriginal culture

Come to Tjapukai Cultural Park at any time of day or night for unique insight into the culture of Australia’s indigenous people. Take a guided tour with a member of one of the local tribes, learn how to throw a spear or play the didgeridoo.

Watch a multimedia presentation to hear the story of the tribes’ creation and discover the role that the Rainbow Serpent myth plays in indigenous culture, before finishing your day by making your own rainforest-style jewellery. Tjapukai is open to visitors in all weathers and provides full wheelchair access.

Swim in the sun and splash safely in the shallows

Cairns Esplanade Swimming Lagoon promises safe swimming away from the crocodiles, jellyfish and other native stingers of tropical north Queensland. With gorgeous views of the mountains on the Cairns horizon, the lagoon is the perfect place for the whole family to catch some rays, go swimming or have a paddle. Finish your time here with a picnic in the park grounds or wander into one of the many cafés or restaurants nearby. The Lagoon is free to enter and showers are available in the amenities block.

Take a stroll along the boardwalk and you’ll find plenty more family fun at Muddy's Playground. Here, the kids will find endless enjoyment on the outdoor adventure equipment while staying safely shaded from the tropical sun.

Which terminal?

Cairns Airport has two passenger terminals: T1 International and T2 Domestic. The two separate terminal buildings are 656 feet (200 metres) apart on the eastern side of the airport and a walkway links the two buildings together. CNS is a hub for Jetstar Airways and Skytrans Airlines and a focus city for Qantas.

The airlines currently offering public flights to and from Cairns Airport can be found on the Cairns Airport website.

How to get to Cairns Airport



From Cairns city centre, drive north on to Highway 1 for five miles (eight kilometres) and follow the road signs for Cairns Airport. After 10 or 11 minutes, you’ll see the airport on your right.

The Captain Cook Highway connects Cairns to the sparsely populated areas to the north, whilst the number 1 Gulf Developmental Road makes it reachable from the west.

Bus and coach

Sun Palm Transport operates the Airport Connect bus service that integrates CNS with the Translink transport network. The bus leaves from the C9 Bus Stop at 381 Sheridan Street (Cairns Northern Health Centre) and buses run every hour from 4:15am to 6:15pm, but Sun Palm only accepts pre-bookings for the service. You must book your place on the Airport Connect bus at least 24 hours before departure.

Eclipse Transport offers pre-booked coach transfers from Cairns Airport to Palm Cove or Port Douglas. Journeys from CNS to Port Douglas take 1.25 hours and run every half an hour and this service also stops at Thala Beach Lodge and Northern Beaches.


CNS doesn't have a train station and Cairns itself doesn't have any local train services in operation. However, you can get shuttle buses from the airport into Cairns city centre, where you can connect with long distance rail services at Cairns railway station.

Useful tips

Free WiFi is available

Free WiFi is available in Cairns Airport for a limited time. Passengers in T1 may access the internet for one hour every 24 hours. In T2, you get free WiFi for 30 minutes every 24 hours.

Download your favourite movies

A movie kiosk in the Domestic Terminal departures lounge allows you to download your favourite films for a small fee. If you’re stuck with nothing to do while you wait for your flight or want something to occupy your mind during a long journey, simply connect to the free WiFi and download a movie on the device of your choice.

Don’t be hassled by drivers

Bus and taxi drivers are not permitted to approach members of the public to try and solicit a fare. All transfers must be either pre-arranged or booked in the terminal at the Sun Palm information centre and it is against the law for drivers to approach you at the airport.

Transfers between terminals are quick and easy

A covered walkway connects T1 International and T2 Domestic. To transfer from T1 Arrivals to T2 Departures, simply follow the blue line. To make your way from T2 Arrivals to T1 Departures, follow the green line.

Know the latest check-in times

Separate airlines have different check-in rules, but most operators require you to check in at least 45 minutes before take-off. Most international airlines ask you to check in no later than two hours before departure. To avoid missing your flight, we recommend checking your airline’s specific requirements.

Cairns Airport FAQs

What time do the car parks open and close?

All CNS car parks are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

How far is Cairns Airport from Port Douglas and Palm Cove?

CNS is 41.1 miles (66.1 kilometres) from Port Douglas via Captain Cook Highway/State Route 44, which is a journey of around one hour by car. It takes 28 minutes to drive the 16.1 miles (25.9 kilometres) to Palm Cove via National Route 1 and Captain Cook Highway/State Route 44.

What time does the airport open?

Cairns Airport opens at 4am or two hours before the first flight of the day (whichever is earlier) and closes after the last flight every night.

Where are the taxi ranks?

You’ll find a sheltered taxi rank at the front each terminal. There are plenty of signs around the building to help you find your way. Staff at the Cairns Taxis booking call centre monitor both ranks 24 hours a day. If there are no taxis in sight, you can use the intercom to get in touch with the call centre and order one.

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Cairns customer's reviews: 94% (18145)

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