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Brisbane Airport runway contract award fails to quell operator anger

written by australianaviation.com.au | October 11, 2013

While Brisbane welcomed its first scheduled A380 services by Emirates, congestion at the airport remains a major issue. (Scott Little)
While Brisbane welcomed its first scheduled A380 services by Emirates, congestion at the airport remains a major issue. (Brock Little)

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.”


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Comments (8)

  • Roman


    I think the Wagners Group for the new Wellcamp Airport near Toowoomba have made the right decision to build in the region. It will take more freight and cargo flights, regional airlines and have the capacity for a future freight hub linked to the major inland highways. As population growth expands to the West and North and upgrades to Gold Coast and Maroochydore airports occur in the near future, Brisbane will be able to increase capacity. But it needs to happen now.

    To the Wagner brothers. Thank you and well done.

  • Dane


    Too little, too late in my opinion. Surely with the trends of air travel growth over the last decade, BAC would have been able to predict that they would need a second runway years ago. Brisbane and SE Queensland will suffer financial losses because of the lack of foresight of managment.

  • DB


    Brisbane airport is an ‘infrastructure emergency’ right not. Not in 2020, now … in 2013. The economic cost between now and the completion is beyond reckoning. It is ‘so nice’ that they have the PR machine out spruiking how great this will be when it is done – but it is 2020 maybe before it is completed. In this day and age there must be faster ways to get this completed for the economic benefit of all. I would doubt that it would take 6 years in Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Dubai or Korea. Why not open the thinking up and get the project done in half the time? The State and Federal Governments need to call this for the emergency that it is and demand a faster solution. Hong Kong and Singapore will both have a 3rd runway in place before this is completed so comparisons to HKG and SIN capacity are very much about thinking in the past.

  • James from Sydney


    The capacity issues at Brisbane Airport highlights what Sydney Airport has to deal with when it reaches capacity with a lot more at stake. It’s going to get messy.

  • SD


    Pushing Regional airlines out to Sunshine/Gold Coast is not an option, they provide essential connections for people in Regional Australia to get to their capital and connect with other domestic/international flights.
    DB is right, it needs to be done quicker and the government should require it to happen or revoke the lease. If BAC put in as much effort as they put into the carpark “cash cow” it would be done in no time.

  • John


    The BAC spin doctors are hard at it: “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.”

    The billion dollars that they have spent so far is mainly on carparks, shopping centre, roads etc – mainly designed to increase their revenue but minimal expenditure on essential aviation infrastructure. The Federal Government has the power to force the major airport owners to spend more on essential infrastructure so I hope the new minister comes down on them like a ton of bricks.

  • Mark Twain


    Australian airports have quickly become a 3rd world calamity.

    7yrs to build a runway, what a complete disaster! I have a mate who first went to Beijing in Mar 2005, with nothing more than loose outline on the ground of the impending runway and terminal to be built…by the time the 2008 Olympics arrived, they had completed the new runway, and one of the biggest terminals in the World. 3yrs!

    Bangkok Airport in a country many Australians will say in comments in regards to news reports, is a 3rd World country they will never goto. Um, no…take a look at your own disaster, Australia is the 3rd World joke, Bangkok Airport beats anything we have in Oz.

    The most embarrassing thing I have ever witnessed was arriving to Melb (the airport that doesn’t even have a train line running to it!) from HKG. The baggage belt been too small was overloaded with too many bags and stopped. So people climbed over the belt to throw bags to waiting pax.

    I can say I have NEVER seen that happen in HKG, BKK, SGN or loads of Chinese airports I have flown into.

    Australia has become nothing, nothing but a joke and people still live in this dreamworld that we are ahead of the World!

  • Dante Perth


    Airport privatisation has been an utter failure in Australia because the government sold the airports to incompetent companies. I’ve had the pleasure of travelling through Singapore and Hong Kong airports and seen a documentary on Dubai’s airport and our airports fall well short. They need to sack the management of all our main airports and employ some people who have some vision. In fact there is a general lack of vision by most management and government in this country. This country relies very heavily on air travel because of the vast size of our country as well our distance from the rest of the world so they should have seen it coming. With inferior and poorly maintained infrastructure, not just airports, our country is at risk of being labelled third world in the next 10 or 20 years.

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