Brisbane Airport runway contract award fails to quell operator anger
Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) has awarded a contract for dredging and reclamation work for the airport’s new parallel runway. Work is expected “to begin within weeks”, not soon enough for airlines frustrated with continual delays despite the efforts of the airport, airlines and Airservices to optimise existing capacity.
“This is a clear signal that we are absolutely committed to building this critical piece of national infrastructure,” BAC chairman Bill Grant said.
Defending BAC’s position on investment in airfield infrastructure, a key issue for airlines, Grant said: “In the last 10 years BAC has spent more than a billion dollars on Brisbane Airport and in the next 10 years we’ll spend another $2 billion.”
Just two weeks ago regional airlines were urged to look at using nearby airports such as Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast to relieve pressure on runway capacity, something the Regional Aviation Association of Australia’s chairman Jeff Boyd labeled as “disingenuous”.
“It is becoming obvious that the second runway will be needed sooner rather than later. We hope BAC sees regional operators as their business partners, and not an irritation. This is simply the wrong message to send to business and regional communities”.
BAC is proceeding with the development despite airlines – except Virgin Australia – holding-out on contributions to the runway project prior to its completion. Qantas has blankly refused to meet BAC demands for increased aeronautical charges to help fund the runway ahead of is completion, as have the vast majority of other carriers. Virgin Australia announced in June it had come to a unilateral deal with BAC in which it sold its maintenance hangar to airport in a collateral deal that saw the airline lease it back, with a sweetener of improved terminal facilities at Brisbane.
The $1.35 billion runway, which will be 3,300m long and located two kilometres west of the existing main runway, is being built on a 360ha greenfield site. The economic benefit of the project will be in the order of $5 billion per year by 2035.
Preliminary enabling works have been largely completed while works under the dredging and reclamation contract would begin within weeks. The dredging and reclamation involves the placement on the site of 13 million cubic metres of sand up to a maximum height of eight metres above ground in order to consolidate the soft underlying soils to form a stable platform to construct the runway. The total cost of the works to the end of phase one will be around $500 million.
On completion, which is expected by 2020, BAC said Brisbane Airport would have a runway capacity “equal to that of major international airports like Hong Kong or Singapore.”