Transport Minister Anthony Albanese has signaled that the Federal Government could step in to the growing row over Brisbane Airport’s expansion.
Brisbane Airport Corporation, which operates the airport, has threatened to halt construction on a second parallel runway unless airlines agree to fund roughly a quarter of the $1.3 billion project. Airlines, which would likely collect the fees through surcharges to passengers, have refused to go along with the demand.
BAC has said it will halt construction after the first phase of the project is completed later this year unless an agreement is reached.
The issue has come to the fore in recent weeks with the The Courier-Mail newspaper launching an aggressive campaign highlighting rampant delays at the airport.
Albanese last night told the newspaper that he has instructed his department to monitor BAC’s progress, calling the matter one of “vital importance to the Queensland economy and the national economy.”
Under the deal that privatised Australia’s airports in 1997, companies operating the airports are required to prioritise needed upgrades of aviation infrastructure. Failing to do could theoretically open the way for the government to seize control of the airport’s assets.
Seeking to take advantage of the row, Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson has pushed claims that an expansion of his city’s airport could provide a better solution to the Brisbane backlog.
“Our airport is an hour from Brisbane, our runway could be delivered at a fraction of the cost, and most of our land is ready to build on now,” Jamison said in a statement. “Our runway could take as little as five year to build — Brisbane is looking at least eight years.”
Jamieson said he planned to press that argument in a meeting with Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney today.
“In the short term, we could take Brisbane’s overflow flights right now as its peak periods are the opposite of ours,” Jamieson said.