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The Australian Government approved a major development plan (MDP) for the Gold Coast International Airport, the sixth busiest airport in Australia, in February 2016. In 2015, the Gold Coast airport owner and operator, Queensland Airports Limited (QAL), proposed a redevelopment plan to upgrade the existing terminal facilities under a programme named Let’s Invest for Tomorrow (LIFT).
The LIFT project will expand and upgrade the terminal and apron facilities in order to accommodate the expected increased passenger traffic during the upcoming 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, as well as the future growth at the airport, which is projected to reach 16.3 million passengers by 2031.
Construction work on the redevelopment commenced in mid-2016 with the majority of works completed by the end of 2017, ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Subsequent phases of the expansion will be completed until 2021.
The estimated investment on the project is $370m, which will be recovered over the operational life of the airport through revenue from commercial developments and other airport charges.
Need for the terminal expansion
In recent years, the airport has experienced significant growth in domestic and international traffic due to the increase in low-cost and full-service carrier airlines, which resulted in congestion at the aircraft parking stands.
The terminal area is experiencing capacity issues during peak hours in multiple areas, including international arrivals, domestic and international departure lounges, check-in areas.
Capacity issues are believed to significantly limit the airport’s ability to serve future passenger demand necessitating the redevelopment.
The airport is also expected to receive more than 117,000 visitors, 5,000 athletes, 2,000 officials and 2,700 media representatives for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
LIFT project at Gold Coast International Airport benefits
In addition to enabling the airport to work more efficiently and effectively, the LIFT project creates significant economic benefits to the Gold Coast region by generating employment opportunities, stimulating economic activities and facilitating tourism.
The project will create 1,500 jobs during the construction phase and 180 full-time jobs during the operations phase.
By accommodating additional flights, the expanded airport will attract more tourists and generate additional revenue to the region.
Gold Coast airport expansion details
The current expansion focuses on three major areas, namely the terminal building expansion and redevelopment, construction of five additional aircraft stands with associate taxiways, and improvements to the ground transport facilities.
The majority of the redevelopment will take place to the south of the existing terminal and apron. The entire area marked for future aviation development will be cleared in order to create space for expansion.
The terminal expansion will add gross floor space of 25,000m². The international processing area at the northern end of the terminal will be relocated to the southern end to provide international departures and arrival facilities. The vacated area will be repurposed for domestic functions by adding swing departure gates and baggage reclaim belts.
Jet brides to serve domestic and international flights will be added to the terminal to service up to four aircraft at a time. Additional aerobridges will be added in future.
The expanded terminal will be a three-level building, featuring circulation areas, international security and screening area, departure emigration processing area, departure lounge, arrivals duty-free store, arrivals immigration processing, office accommodation for border agencies, baggage claim and arrival halls.
The airport built an exclusive lounge with fusing beach and rainforest theme for athletes and officials associated with Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Apron and taxiway expansion at the airport
The apron expansion added five new Code E aircraft stands and associated taxiways.
Stands were constructed in two stages. Completed in April 2018, stage one includes the development of three Code E stands and taxiway access to the parallel taxiway, while the remaining two stands and associated taxiways will be completed by early 2021.
Ground transport facilities upgrade
The airport will be renovated to incorporate new facilities, including a relocated taxi staging area, and covered pedestrian walkways and boarding areas for coaches, mini-buses and limousines, as well as circulation roads for all ground transport.
The project will be implemented in two stages. Stage one includes site preparation, vegetation clearing, realignment of drainage, terminal redevelopment and construction of parking stands. Construction on stage one began in mid-2016 and was completed in April 2018.
In November 2018, a new stormwater unit was installed, which serves the new terminal and 192-bed hotel.
Commencing in late 2020, stage two will include the construction of two additional aircraft parking stands and is scheduled to be completed in early 2021.
Brisbane-based construction, civil and mining company Watpac was awarded the contract to manage stage one construction work in 2015. The company provides the design team with construction, buildability and schedule advice for the construction works.
QAL awarded a contract to Lendlease in March 2019 for the development of airport’s southern terminal.
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