From city airport to airport city

Posted: 16 June 2006 | Koen Roojimans, Brisbane Airport Corporation, Managing Director and CEO | No comments yet

With the population of south east Queensland on the rise and the region becoming increasingly popular as a tourist destination – over 16 million people are travelling through Brisbane Airport every year – now is the time to lock in the benefits of growth by investing in the future, explains Koen Roojimans.

With the population of south east Queensland on the rise and the region becoming increasingly popular as a tourist destination – over 16 million people are travelling through Brisbane Airport every year – now is the time to lock in the benefits of growth by investing in the future, explains Koen Roojimans.

Forty-three per cent of the visitors to Australia come to Queensland, which is why it is essential that the State’s gateway airport has the capacity to handle the rapidly increasing number of airport users.

Brisbane Airport Corporation Pty Ltd (BAC) has committed more than $1.5 billion to upgrading Airport infrastructure over the next decade. Brisbane Airport has entered an extraordinary period of growth.We need to manage this growth through careful planning and investment, which will see Brisbane Airport evolve into a commercial hub while also sharpening the region’s focus on manufacturing, export industries, tourism, commerce, retail and education and training.

The $1.5 billion will focus on four major projects which are: expanding the International and Domestic Terminals; upgrading the Airport road network; and building a new runway system, including a New Parallel Runway.

BAC has recently completed a $4.5 million upgrade to the Domestic Terminal road face that delivered a 50 per cent increase in set down and pick-up areas.

While many airports are actually reducing such facilities, the Brisbane Airport upgrades include improvements to the Terminal Road face, a new centrally located undercover taxi rank, 15-minute free registered disabled set down and pick up zones and new entrance and exit lanes for easier access and less congestion.

This upgrade is only the start of a face-lift for the Domestic Terminal, with upgrades to the terminal building expected to take place in the next five years.

Far more pressing, however, is the International Terminal, with major works on the International Terminal Expansion Project already underway, due for completion in late 2008.

While only 10 years old, the International Terminal expansion plans are expected to include a virtual doubling of capacity, maximising the use of modern technology by incorporating two new A380 gates for the new generation aircraft as well as self-service check-in and ‘common user’ facilities. The outcome will mean significantly reduced queuing times for passengers and lower costs and better services for airlines.

International Terminal Expansion Project Director, John Richards, said that BAC’s International Terminal expansion will incorporate two new A380 gates with dual aerobridges, ensuring it is one of only 60 airports worldwide to accommodate the new generation of aircraft.

“We plan to use these modern aviation facilities, along with a range of new technologies throughout the project, to create a user-friendly, state-of-the-art design that reflects the changing expectations of passengers in a contemporary airport experience,” he said.

As part of the expansion there is also the opportunity to improve the entire airport experience. This will involve upgrading various facilities including car parks, retail, duty free, food and beverage, entertainment, business services, airline passenger lounges and other features expected in a worldclass airport.

With Brisbane recently being awarded the International Air Transport Association Eagle Award for the World’s Best Privatised Airport, Mr Richards believes BAC is on track to deliver the most modern, efficient and well-designed airport in Australia.

“Not only do people want the stress taken out of travel, their expectations of what airports should offer means that the modern terminal must be much more than just a place to catch a plane.We are focusing on streamlining processes with the use of new technologies and a better terminal layout to remove congestion, while also developing an entirely new retail and amenities concept, creating an enjoyable, rather than stressful, travelling experience,” Mr Richards said.

Unlike all other capital city Airport operators, BAC is responsible for a massive motorway-standard road network, fully funded and maintained by BAC. Improvements to the Brisbane Airport road network announced recently will significantly reduce the stress of travelling to and from the gateway Airport, with $150 million dedicated to road upgrades over the next six years.

A second entrance to Brisbane Airport – the Northern Access Roads Project (NARP) – will form the centrepiece of this roads package.

The privately funded access – possibly the single biggest private road investment in Australia – will significantly cut airport travel times from the north and south via a link to the new Gateway Motorway and promises to reduce traffic on the existing entrance by up to 40 per cent.

Terry Rossitto, NARP Project Director, said other features of the package include connections to the International and Domestic Terminals, modifications to Airport Drive to accommodate the Gateway Motorway across Airport land and new roads to connect precincts across the northern sector of the Airport.

“BAC must fund, build and maintain around 90 kilometres of roads with no funding from government, so it is vital that we get the planning right.We must think and invest for the long-term if we are to meet our obligations for the sustainability of Greater Brisbane,” Mr Rossitto said.

“The new roads reflect more than a decade of planning and will ensure Brisbane Airport is ready to take its place as a premier aviation, aerospace, commerce and export hub for Asia-Pacific.”
In addition to upgrading the Airport road system, BAC will also be upgrading the runway and taxi-way system, with planning for the New Parallel Runway well underway.

With the aim of delivering the new runway between 2012 and 2015, BAC is currently undertaking a number of comprehensive technical investigations that will be presented in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Major Development Plan (MDP). The EIS and MDP will be presented to the community for feedback prior to being submitted to the Federal and State Governments for approval some time in the next six to twelve months.

It has been estimated that this privately-funded investment of more than $500 million will add billions of dollars to the region’s economy and generate tens of thousands of jobs over the next two decades.

The new runway was carefully located within the Airport boundaries to allow planes to arrive and depart simultaneously from the runways, a method of operation that was by far the most efficient for both airlines and passengers and would set benchmarks for aviation worldwide.
“In addition, while how an Airport operates is strictly dictated by weather and traffic conditions, we also aim to capitalise on this configuration to maximise the arrival and departure of planes over Moreton Bay, which will have flowon benefits to the community in terms of reducing noise impacts,” Mr Spencer said.

The New Parallel Runway project involves the construction of a 3,600-metre runway located two kilometres west of the existing runway, a process that will take approximately five years to complete following the approvals process.

This project is much more than just another runway for Brisbane Airport. It is about ensuring the continued economic strength of our rapidly growing South East Queensland region, providing the essential public infrastructure needed to respond to population growth and to underpin future commercial prosperity.

BAC is preparing for a massive construction boom over the next decade. It is an exciting and challenging task with many critical factors at stake, including the continued growth of the Queensland economy and the vital tourism industry.

For BAC, the challenge is to help stakeholders in government and industry deliver on the potential of Australia’s most modern, efficient and customer-friendly airport for the long-term benefits of the State.

It is this commitment to the future and ongoing strong relationships with airlines that saw Brisbane recently awarded the Australian Airports Association Major Airport of the Year, in addition to being awarded the prestigious IATA Eagle Award as the World’s Best Privatised Airport.

As Brisbane moves from a city airport into Australia’s first true Airport City, BAC’s $1.5 billion infrastructure developments will ensure that Brisbane continues to offer a high standard to all airport users, while meeting the challenge of growth and delivering a world-class airport, serving Australia’s most dynamic region.

Koen Rooijmans

Koen Rooijmans had been working in the aviation industry for 30 years before being asked by Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to be the Managing Director and CEO of Brisbane Airport Corporation Pty Ltd. Over the past seven years in this role, his effort to develop Brisbane into the premier Gateway airport of Australia has seen the airport awarded the Australian Airports Association Major Airport of the Year and the IATA Eagle Award for the World’s Best Privatised Airport.

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