Canberra Airport’s passenger terminal reopened on Friday after two days of closure due to no scheduled domestic or international flights departing.
The airport’s marketing manager, Jemma Delamont, said this was the first time such a situation had occurred, and added, “The airport runway remains operational for general aviation, emergency flights, government and air force flights.”
The government’s announcement that it will underwrite a minimal domestic network is likely to only bring a small amount of relief – of the new routes, only flights to Sydney and Melbourne are covered from Canberra.
The airport has previously announced further measures to save money, including closing car parks, turning off electricity in some parts of building, closing one screening point and also shutting the western concourse of the terminal.
Only one food outlet is open on reduced hours while some terminal staff are taking leave or working from home. Qantas and Virgin have also shut their lounges.
“The temporary change also allows for business continuity cost savings and is a change that was made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and not any other planning,” an airport statement read.
“Emergency service aircraft and essential government aircraft have taken this temporary change in their stride and continue to operate out of Canberra Airport.”
In late February, before the coronavirus pandemic really hit, Australian Aviation reported that Canberra Airport was aiming to treble passenger numbers from 3 million to 9 million by 2040 under an ambitious “master plan” put forward by the government.
The expansion could include a new runway, international flights to Los Angeles and Tokyo, and an increased freight hub.
The Liberal and National government estimated the strategy would indirectly support more than 37,000 jobs and generate $6.8 billion in economic activity by 2028.