The Australian Government has approved a $500m project to expand terminal 1 at Perth International Airport, with construction to begin in early 2012.

Under the first phase, the check-in area will be increased to accommodate 16 additional counters, new check-in and bag drop technology, an expanded passport control area and a quarantine section for international passengers.

The baggage reclaim area will be expanded with double loop reclaim belts to minimise waiting times while a domestic pier is built.

Aprons will also be upgraded and expanded, and 12 new aerobridge gates catering for wide-bodied domestic aircraft will be built, along with a dedicated domestic check-in area and aerobridges capable of facilitating A380 aircraft.

The expansion will increase the terminal’s floor space by 80%, which will improve passenger processing, visitor services and ground transport.

Perth Airport CEO Brad Geatches said that the airport authority was extremely pleased that the Australian Government had endorsed the airport’s extensive plans for the international terminal.

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"We will have both domestic and international services operating from what is currently the international terminal by 2014," he added.

Perth Airport owner and operator Westralia Airports completed a major $1.23bn debt funding initiative and the airport will get $915m of revolving facilities spread across four, six and seven-year terms.