Townsville Airport is set to see a $15 million terminal makeover in the coming months, as a number of new projects are officially set in motion.
The airport hopes to take advantage of reduced passenger traffic, and complete its major works ahead of the domestic and international aviation restart.
The first project involves an upgrade to the airport’s security screening zone, in line with new government security requirements, as well as the terminal’s check-in area and retail spaces.
This project is aided by a $9.15 million federal government grant under the Regional Airports Screening Infrastructure program.
The airport said the screening upgrade alone will create 17 new construction jobs, and will take six months to complete.
The project includes a reconfiguration of the security screening area, making it three times larger than previously, to accommodate the federal government’s enhanced security screening requirements.
According to the airport, modern security screening equipment will be installed once the physical infrastructure upgrades are completed, including including two body scanners and CT X-ray systems for carry on and check-in baggage.
The airport will also complete a $6.4 million upgrade to its water supply, fire system, and sewer system, funded by the airport via a Northern Australia Infrastructure facility loan.
Works on this upgrade will begin outside the terminal, from next month, and are expected to be completed by May next year.
Townsville-based CES Civil has been engaged to undertake the works, employing about 20 contractors, according to the airport.
Queensland Airports Limited CEO Chris Mills said the terminal upgrades were an important step forward for the airport.
“These projects are progressing at a time when airports around the country have been forced to put plans on hold,” he said.
“The security screening project will see Townsville passengers using the latest technology, ahead of many other airports in the country. When this equipment is in place, passengers will not have to remove laptops or tablets from bags when going through security screening.”
Mills said the infrastructure projects were starting while passenger numbers at Townsville Airport continued to be well below desired levels.
“The airport operated at about 37 per cent of pre-COVID-19 passenger capacity in August. Last year it dropped to as low as 10 per cent in May,” he said. “We know vaccinations will be critical to travel resuming.
“Activity will pick up when restrictions ease, but we are still some months away from that time. Even then our business recovery will take time because we have been significantly affected by travel restrictions, which have been in place for 18 months now.”
Local MP for Herbert, Phillip Thompson, welcomed the beginning of work on the security screening infrastructure.
“There’s nothing more important when it comes to air travel than safety, which is the primary reason we’ve provided this funding through the Regional Airports Screening Infrastructure program,” he said.
“With this project we’re also seeing the added benefit of a better experience for airport users, who’ll have a more seamless journey through check-in and security.
“The project will also link in with the airport’s longer-term redevelopment plans, which I know a lot of frequent flyers are looking forward to.”