Townsville Airport is asking travellers to support an increase in passenger charges to help fund its terminal redevelopment.
The proposed expansion to the terminal, which has been submitted to the federal government for approval and has been released for public consultation, would result in two new airline lounges, more space for security screening, baggage handling, checkin desks, retail shops and food outlets.
Also, the current international departures area would be reconfigured with swing gates able to handle both domestic and international flights, while some offices and engineering facilities would be relocated to free up more space.
The Major Development Plan (MDP) says the terminal’s floor space would be increased by 20 per cent to 20,000 square metres, from 16,700 square metres currently.
Should the plan be given the green light, construction was due to begin at the start of 2016 and be completed in 12 months.
“Constructed in 1981 with upgrades in 1997 and 2003, the existing terminal building is an aging asset that needs significant layout and functional improvements to accommodate existing and projected passenger growth and address the capacity constraints,” the MDP said.
“The entry of low cost and value carriers, significant increases in connecting flights from Townsville and fluctuations in the economic climate over the past 10 years have changed the composition of passengers since the terminal building was last upgraded.”
Townsville Airport’s domestic departure lounge was currently at capacity, the MDP said, while baggage areas were reaching capacity and security screening areas had limited queuing space and was a cause of congestion.
“Customer feedback has indicated that satisfaction levels with the terminal facilities are progressively declining,” the MDP said.
“The lack of adequate space in the airport lounge facility, conflicting passenger flows in the upper concourse and limited offerings of food and beverage in airside areas are key items of dissatisfaction.
“The redevelopment of the Townsville Airport terminal will reduce existing congestion and passenger flow conflicts during peak times and provide an improved quality of service for airport customers.”
The proposed development was anticipated to have a project cost in excess of $50 million, the MDP said.
Passenger numbers at Townsville Airport were expected to grow between three and four per cent per year, rising from 1.6 million in 2013/14 to 3.6 million by 2030.
Queensland Airports Ltd, (QAL) which operates Townsville Airport, said it would fund the initial redevelopment works detailed in the MDP.
However, QAL chief executive Dennis Chant said the airport would “ask airline passengers to pay up to $3.00 extra on the price of an airfare in and out of Townsville Airport from 2017”, once the first phase of major works was complete.
“These charges are still lower than our peers at Cairns and Darwin and, in real dollar terms, are a significant discount to the charges set 10 years ago,” Chant said in a statement.
“The reality for regional airports, like Townsville, is that this sort of major infrastructure project will not happen without some kind of increase in charges. Townsville Airport charges for major airline partners have essentially remained static for a decade, which is not sustainable.”
The Townsville Airport website says the current the terminal usage charge per domestic passenger comprised of a $5.49 terminal usage or common user charge, a $6.90 aeronautical charge and $2.15 passenger and checked bag screening charge. The charges were scheduled to increase on July 1 2015.
The passenger charge increase would only apply to domestic flights, with international flights exempt for the first five years.
Townsville Airport chief operating officer Kevin Gill said the MDP was “phase-one of a program of infrastructure upgrades that we will progress over the next 10 years” and called on the community to support the increase in passenger charges.
“We will deliver ongoing facility improvements as well as hundreds of construction jobs throughout this project, at a time Townsville needs them most,” Gill said.
“This is about the airport taking part in the revitalisation of this city.”
The public comment period closes on August 5.
The full MDP can be found on the airport’s website.