Canberra releases preliminary draft of master plan

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Canberra Airport in Australia has published a preliminary draft of its 2020 Master Plan, which focuses on bringing more inbound passengers to the airport, on more aircraft, and across a wider range of airlines.

According to the plan, within the next five to eight years, the Canberra Airport team will be working to bring in more international and low-cost carriers, resulting in more passengers than ever before. Key areas for expansion identified by the airport include inbound tourism, education and investment, and outbound business services.

“The airport currently serves more than three million passengers per year, but those numbers are forecast to rise to more than nine million by 2040 if all goes to plan,” says Michael Thomson, head of aviation, Canberra Airport.

“We continue to collaborate with the ACT [Australian Capital Territory] and NSW [New South Wales] governments, which support our plans for growing our aviation business, and we are optimistic about future growth. Our region has a lot to offer Australia and the world.”

Canberra’s ethos is to invest early to provide room for growth. To this end, the 2020 Master Plan discusses aviation capacity for the Canberra Region in 50-60 years’ time, which is when the main runway is forecast to reach its practical limits. Airport management has drawn up a parallel runway concept which requires the acquisition of land from the Australian government.

Opened in 2014, the new terminal has additional built-in capacity to service over eight million passengers to meet expected demand in the short to medium term, including for the growth expected within the 20-year planning horizon of this 2020 Master Plan. This additional capacity is beyond what is required by any contractual commitments to the airlines and, accordingly, the cost of this additional capacity is withheld by Canberra Airport until such time as it is required by airlines and/or passengers and/or other users of the terminal.

The integrity of the planning and design of the terminal provides for further additions of capacity without major rework of the existing building. The process for delivering these additions is already agreed as part of long-term commercial contracts with airlines. This ensures there is opportunity for significant increases in terminal capacity, beyond the current capability, to meet expected, and potentially unforeseen, growth for the duration of the 2020 Master Plan.

In this preliminary draft, the airport also outlined its ongoing environmental commitments. The Canberra Airport Environment Strategy focuses on continued protection of endangered flora and fauna known to be present on the airport site, namely natural temperate grassland, the Grassland Earless Dragon and the Golden Sun Moth, and recognizing research commissioned by the airport to improve grassland establishment and dragon management in the region.

Over the next five to eight years, Canberra will also build upon existing connections with neighbors to manage stormwater flows around the airport site, as well as working to improve the auditing framework for high-risk tenants.

Canberra Airport’s 2020 Master Plan is a preliminary draft that has been prepared in accordance with the Airports Act 1996. The airport will be accepting written comments about the preliminary draft until Wednesday, November 6, 2019.

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Tara has worked for UKi Media & Events since 2013, initially as a freelancer. She has been a journalist for over a decade and has worked for a range of publications, including Personnel Today, Management Today and The Grocer.

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