02 August 2011
Canberra continues to work towards welcoming international Australian visa holders
Work is continuing on a transformation of Canberra’s airport that will allow for Australian visa holders to fly from outside Australia directly into the capital.
Canberra will be accepting direct international flights for Australian visa holders by 2013
Canberra currently operates no international services for Australian visa holders from its existing airport, however a AU$420m modernisation program will result in the airport being upgraded to handle international as well as domestic flights, with flights likely to travel to and from New Zealand, Singapore and China. The southern extension of the new terminal was completed in November 2010 with the western extension currently in construction. Work is expected to be completed by mid 2013, in time for the city’s centenary celebrations.
The airport will feature Australia’s first indoor taxi queuing area as well as five new aerobridges, 12 check-in counters, new club lounges as well as retail and food outlets and an increase in the number of baggage handling facilities. The new terminal will be home to Virgin Australia as well as regional carriers, while the existing terminal is currently used by Qantas. Canberra Airport’s managing director Stephen Byron said: “We've got to build this infrastructure for the next 20 years and it's going to be a real statement of welcome to our city. We want to try to deliver the best small airport in the world."
Passenger numbers passing through Canberra are forecast to rise to nearly 3.5m by 2015 with the number of flights to and from the city steadily increasing. Most recently, Virgin Airlines announced they will be introducing an additional six new services a day between Canberra and Sydney, taking the weekly total number of flights between the two cities to 60.
The construction of international services in Canberra comes at a time other international airlines are looking to expand their presence in the country. Wayne Borland, national sales manager for United Arab Emirates airline Etihad recently revealed plans to expand flights from Abu Dhabi to Perth and Adelaide. Meanwhile, China Southern airlines have recently expanded their flights into Melbourne, adding a second daily service.
Western Australia is scheduled to start its own three-year, AU$515m overhaul of Perth’s international airport this month designed to accommodate larger Airbus A380 planes and include a terminal dedicated to flying skilled workers from Perth to the state’s mines and other resource-rich areas in the north west.