Moranbah Airport, the airfield serving the rural mining town of Moranbah in Queensland, has seen the end of scheduled Virgin Australia-operated passenger flights following the last service to Brisbane Int'l on September 10.

The move is the result of the carrier's previously announced decision to withdraw all six ATR 72-500s and two ATR 72-600s from Queensland for deployment in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), New South Wales, and Victoria exclusively.

According to the Daily Mercury, an Alliance Airlines (QQ, Brisbane Int'l) effort to assume the Moranbah route from Virgin using Fokker 100 jet equipment, failed to gain traction after it emerged the airfield's owner and operator, BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance, would have to undertake significant improvements to the airfield's infrastructure to enable the use of jets.

"Since Alliance announced its interest in flying into Moranbah, we have been working through the technical and regulatory requirements to identify whether we can safely maintain operational capacity at the airport if jet operations were to commence," a BHP spokesman told the newspaper.

"To regularly land and take-off jets may require upgrades to the airport infrastructure - to meet both operational and regulatory requirements. We welcome Alliance's engagement in this area."

"It is important the community understands we cannot yet safely accommodate regular operations involving larger jet aircraft without due precaution."

In the meantime, Moranbah continues to see scheduled service through Qantas (QF, Sydney Kingsford Smith). The carrier's Qantaslink subsidiaries, Sunstate Airlines (SSQ, Brisbane Int'l) and Eastern Australia Airlines (EAQ, Tamworth), currently use Dash 8-400 and Dash 8-300 equipment respectively to run up to 4x daily shuttles to Brisbane.