Adelaide Airport has officially kicked off a $165 million project to expand its passenger terminal and improve facilities for international passengers.
The construction works got underway on Wednesday when Adelaide Airport managing director Mark Young turned the first ceremonial sod. The project was first announced in June and due for completion in 2021.
International traffic has increased significantly in the past year or so, following the start of services by Qatar to Doha (in 2016), China Southern (to Guangzhou in 2016 and Fiji Airways (to Nadi in 2017).
Adelaide reached 1 million international passengers in 2017/18
The number of international passengers has tripled since the new international terminal was opened in 2005 and reached 952,000 in the 2016/17 financial year. It topped one million in the 12 months to June 30 2018, an improvement of 5.5 per cent, or 52,500 passengers, from the prior year.
Total passenger numbers reached 8.1 million last year.
Young said the expansion project, being undertaken by Watpac Construction, was aimed particularly at improving facilities, and the passenger experience.
“We have sufficient stands and gates for aircraft, but we need more space to deal with the growing volume of passengers,” Young said on Wednesday.
The project would increase the terminal space by 16,500 square metres, including an additional 7,257 square metres of retail space to boost shopping and dining opportunities for passengers.
In the international precinct, departing passengers would gain more retail and dining space, as well as an expanded duty free shopping area.
There would also be larger immigration and security screening areas, which are being relocated from Level 2 (checkin) to Level 1 – the present arrivals area – where a second baggage belt would be installed.
And the work included new VIP facilities for international departures and arrivals, and a “common user” premium departure lounge for international passengers.
Under the changes, Gate 18 will become a dedicated international gate, but Adelaide Airport planned to continue to use of “swing gates” able to be used for both international and domestic flights depending on demand.
The terminal has six of these gates at present, including two for international narrow-body aircraft.
Young said the project would enable the airport to attract new international airlines to Adelaide, with a direct service from the US West Coast still the priority, and cater for additional flights by carriers already serving the South Australian capital.
After discussions with airlines, Adelaide Airport has put on hold earlier plans move the international area to the northern end of the terminal and build three new gates at the back of a widened pier.
“We are not moving to add gates straight away,” he said, although the proposal remained in the airport’s development plan and was likely to happen “in due course”.
Meanwhile, work on the $50 million, 165-room Atura Hotel, adjacent to the terminal building, was running well ahead of schedule and likey to open for business in September.
The hotel was originally due for completion by the end of 2018.
VIDEO: A look at the terminal expansion project from Adelaide Airport’s YouTube channel.