Brisbane’s new airport runway finishes construction quietly

Despite planning on a grand opening, Brisbane Aiport’s new $1.1 billion parallel runway has finished construction to very little fanfare. After eight years of construction, there was no ceremony, no champagne, and very few people present to mark the date — despite the fact that the new runway has been one of Brisbane’s biggest infrastructure developments for nearly a decade.

COVID-19 certainly threw a spanner in the plans for a large unveiling, even though it didn’t hinder the progress on the construction of the project.

The new runway will slowly double Brisbane Airport’s passenger numbers from 23.4 million in the 2018-19 financial year to more than 50 million by 2040. That will increase Brisbane’s daily flights at the new airport to about 110 aircraft movements an hour, putting the airport in the same league as Singapore’s.

Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) chief executive Gert-Jan de Graaff said while the milestone marked the end of the project, it also signalled a new beginning for Brisbane Airport, post-COVID-19.

“In many respects this runway is symbolic of the very firm belief we have that aircraft will, in the not too distant future, return to the skies and our terminals will once again be full of happy people looking forward to visiting their families, their holidays or to travel to do business. Now more than ever, it is crucial that we have the infrastructure and mechanisms in place to allow our great city and state to recover from the COVID-19 global pandemic, and Brisbane Airport, and this new runway will play a strong part in that.”

“The last few months have been difficult for everyone in the aviation and travel industries, as well as the whole community, but we have never lost sight of the fact that this project has been built for the long term. It will serve us well for many decades to come,” de Graff said. “Today is a culmination of eight years of physical construction, many years before that in planning, and foresight from nearly half a century ago for an airport with the growth capacity to meet the aspirations of the city and the state.”

De Graaff said thousands of people had worked on the project over decades and thanked them for their contribution to one of the most important construction projects in Queensland’s history.

“As we reach this historic milestone, I must commend the entire new runway team for putting their heart and souls into this project over the last 15 years. Every step of the way the BAC team has been supported by many partners, suppliers and contractors who have contributed — it truly is a project built by the community for the community,” de Graff said.

“This new runway is so much more than asphalt; it is an enabler for recovery and growth across all facets of business, with an estimated 7,800 new jobs created by 2035 and an additional $5 billion in annual economic benefit to the region.”

The new runway will now be tested by air traffic controllers, fire crews, operational crews and lighting experts before its official open on July 12, 2020. The planned public open day on that Sunday has been cancelled.

Mr de Graff said Brisbane residents could visit BAC’s Flight Path Tool for information such as aircraft volume forecasts and expected noise footprints for current and future flight paths. This will be particularly useful for anyone planning on buying in the area to capitalise on the new runway, to ensure they pick a project that won’t suffer from the current and new flight paths.

Written: 27 May 2020

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