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Redeveloping Gold Coast Airport to face the future

In a bid to ensure the longevity of the airport, this Gold Coast Airport expansion will increase capacity and secure the airport’s place in the future of aviation. Carl Bruhn, Queensland Airports Limited Executive General Manager Property and Infrastructure, explains more.

Creating a Gold Coast Airport which is ready to face the future

What impact will the terminal expansion have on passenger experience?

Work is now underway on the redevelopment of Gold Coast Airport, which will transform the gateway to the Gold Coast and northern NSW and improve the experience for our passengers. The AU$200 million southern terminal expansion will double the footprint of the existing facility, delivering four aerobridges, additional retail space and new boarding, departure lounge, baggage handling and border-control facilities.

Importantly, the project will address current capacity issues while paving the way for future passenger growth. Currently, about 6.5 million passengers pass through Gold Coast Airport every year, with that figure expected to more than double by 2037.

Construction of a new Rydges-branded hotel – the first hotel on site at Gold Coast Airport – has also begun, which will improve the offer and experience for passengers in the future. The hotel is on track to be delivered by mid-2020, while the new southern terminal is scheduled to open in mid-2021. Once that is complete, the existing terminal will be redeveloped.

What is your favourite feature of the development?

The new terminal will see the provision of four aerobridges, which have long been called for by our passengers and we are excited to deliver. We are also pleased with the innovative use of space in the new terminal, which will allow us to switch between international services – the main operations serviced in the new terminal – and domestic services. This will be done based on demand, using a specially-designed swing gate system.

Have you come up against any challenges?

The number one challenge for us throughout this project has been to ensure the existing terminal is able to operate safely and efficiently during construction. One of our most complex operational challenges has been to ensure our luggage tugs are able to access our existing baggage handling room in the terminal without interruption. This is difficult given the new terminal is being built directly over the entry to the existing baggage handling area. To overcome this, our team has devised a plan to create a tunnelled pathway for the tugs, incorporating a swing-gate system controlled by designated operators, to ensure the separation of the site. This will include everything from lighting, fire detection and ventilation to the security requirements needed to achieve required approvals, while maintaining a safe working environment. The two-way tunnel will be approximately 100m in length once complete and will be incorporated into the design of the new terminal.

How have you made sure the expansion fits within your environmental policy?

Gold Coast Airport’s environmental policy was a key focus during our planning on the Southern Terminal Expansion. This policy is addressed through the implementation of GCA’s Environment Management System. Key components of this system include addressing construction and ongoing impacts on the natural environment and any sustainability considerations. Under this framework, a project-specific Construction and Environment Management Plan was developed to manage these risks. Sustainability considerations also formed a key component of the design, including lighting controls and energy-efficient chillers.

Furthermore, our commitment to sustainability is evidenced by the fact Gold Coast Airport’s parent company, Queensland Airports Limited, recently became one of the first Australian airport groups to secure sustainability-linked bank loan to help fund the terminal expansion. These loans are based on our carbon accreditation and commitment to carbon-emission reduction across all operations at the airport.

What is the best way you have increased capacity at the airport?

As one of Australia’s fastest-growing airports, Gold Coast Airport is faced with an ever-increasing demand for aircraft parking. The airport’s existing apron – constructed in 1979 for since-decommissioned aircraft types – was at risk of becoming inefficient for the busy aviation hub. With passenger numbers growing, a total apron reconfiguration was necessary prior to the start of construction of the new terminal. This project saw aircraft stands reconfigured to a Multiple Aircraft Ramp System (MARS) to create more parking space, and the installation of nearly one kilometre of jet fuel pipeline beneath the active apron.

The Joint User Hydrant Infrastructure (JUHI) expansion project was delivered between June 2017 and November 2018 by Gold Coast Airport and Caltex, with the reconfiguration delivering four additional Code C (narrow body) or three Code E (wide body) aircraft positions, taking the airport’s capacity to 19 parking stands once the terminal expansion is complete. This paves the way for expanded capacity into the future.

Biography 

In the next few years, more than $550 million is being invested across the Queensland Airports Limited group and Carl Bruhn is leading the team that will deliver the extensive capital program. Bruhn is Queensland Airports Limited Executive General Manager Property and Infrastructure and is responsible for overseeing development activity at Gold Coast, Townsville, Mount Isa and Longreach airports. His team will deliver a large programme of works across the group in coming years, including the $200 million Southern Terminal Expansion and a $50 million airport hotel underway at Gold Coast Airport. An expert in urban development, Bruhn is also a member of the Gold Coast Light Rail Business Advisory Group and a Fellow of the Urban Development Institute of Australia. He spent a number of years with Lendlease as General Manager Town Centres and Senior Project Director on the Varsity Lakes project.