Canberra International Airport (IATA: CBRICAO: YSCB), now trading as Canberra Airport, is the airport serving Australia's capital city, Canberra, the nearby city of Queanbeyan, NSW and the surrounding regional area of South-Eastern New South Wales. Located at the eastern edge of North Canberra,[4] it is the 8th busiest airport in Australia. Until the airline's collapse in 2013, the airport was the main base for Brindabella Airlines.[5] Although the airport is designated by the Australian Government as an "Designated International Airport" there are no current scheduled international flights, only ad hoc and charter flights operate. Air Pacific briefly offered a service to Fiji for six months in 2004.[6][7] Canberra Airport is managed and operated by the Canberra Airport Group Pty Ltd. The airport serves flights to the capital cities of Australia and to the Gold Coast. Canberra Airport handled 3,240,848 passengers in financial year 2011.[8][9] Since 2009, Canberra Airport's old Main Terminal has been replaced in a major redevelopment set for completion in November 2013. The southern concourse of the new terminal was completed in November 2010, and the western concourse opened in March 2013.[10]


The airport is located at the intersection of Canberra's main east-west artery (Parkes Way/Pialligo Avenue) and eastern ring road (Monaro Highway/Majura Road) near the semi-rural suburb of Pialligo about an 8 minutes drive from the city centre, 15 minutes from Gungahlin and 10 minutes from Queanbeyan at non-peak times; travel times can sometimes be much longer at peak times due to traffic congestion.

The land is currently divided into four areas:

  • The passenger terminal and general aviation facility are on the western side of the main runway.
  • The Brindabella Business Park is adjacent to the passenger terminal.[11]
  • The ex-air force base area, called Fairbairn, is on the eastern side of the main runway. Fairbairn is home to No. 34 Squadron RAAF, which is responsible for the operations of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) VIP transport aircraft and the area is regularly used by visiting heads of state and military aircraft in transit.
  • A retail and mixed use section on Majura Road which has been named Majura Park.[12] Located in Majura Park are Costco, a small shopping centre and some office buildings. An Ikea store is currently under construction in the area.


The airport was built up from an old airstrip that was first laid down in the 1920s, not long after the National Capital site was decided. In 1939 it was taken over by the RAAF, with an area leased out for civil aviation.

On 13 August 1940, in what became known for the Canberra air disaster, a RAAF Lockheed Hudson flying from Melbourne crashed into a small hill to the east of the airport. Four crew and six passengers, including the Chief of the General staff and three Federal Government ministers, were killed in the accident. James Fairbairn, Minister for Air and Civil Aviation, was one of those killed and Fairbairn Airbase, the eastern component of the airport, was subsequently named after him. In 1962 the military side of the airport was renamed RAAF Base Fairbairn. The North-East quadrant of the airport still retains the Fairbairn name.

Terry Snow holding the book "Canberra Airport: A Pictorial History" (2009) by his wife, Ginette Snow, standing beside the model of Brindabella Business Park.
The hangars and air traffic control tower of Defence Establishment Fairbairn, viewed from the main runway.
Tiger Airways Australia jet at Canberra.
Roos Sculpture at Canberra Airport with Qantas aircraft in background. The sculpture was created by New Zealand sculptor Jeff Thomson[13]

The lease to the site was sold to Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd[14] in 1998, and the RAAF area was sub-leased back to the Department of Defence. It was decommissioned as a RAAF base in 2003, (although No. 34 Squadron RAAF remains based there), and the RAAF area was renamed Defence Establishment Fairbairn.

In the years since the sale of the lease to Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd, a series of upgrades have taken place at the Airport including major terminal upgrades. In early December 2007, plans were announced to construct a new terminal,[15][16] but these plans were placed on hold in late 2008 due to the global financial crisis.[17] However, in April 2009, Canberra Airport announced that it would spend $350million to redevelop the Airport Concourse with completion currently due in November 2013.

Old Terminals

The now demolished old Canberra Airport terminal.

The former Qantas Terminal at Canberra Airport was located on the western side of the building. All Qantas, QantasLink and Brindabella Airlines flights and related services such as lounges now operate from the new Southern Concourse Terminal. The former terminal was demolished in 2011 to make way for the building of the second Western Concourse Terminal.[10]

The former Common User Terminal was located on the far eastern side of the building. The terminal served Virgin Australia and briefily Tiger Airways. Also until 2001 the terminal was the home of Ansett Australia's operations from the airport.[18] However, after the construction of the new Southern Concourse, only the terminal's departure lounge and gates 5 and 6 were in use. The Common User terminal was demolished in June 2013 after the opening of new Southern Concourse.[19]

Brindabella Business Park

Over a dozen office buildings have also been built on airport land at Brindabella Business Park[11] and Fairbairn.[20] A retail precinct called Majura Park has been established on airport land along Majura Road.[12]

The Canberra Spatial Plan released by the ACT Government in March 2004 identified the airport and surrounding areas as being an important centre for future industrial and related development.[21]

Brindabella Airlines had its head office on the airport property.[22]


Several new hangars and buildings have been erected in both Fairbairn and near the terminal. A 600m extension to one of the airport's runways and upgrades to runway systems were completed in 2006.[23]

Airport Redevelopment

In 2008, Canberra International Airport launched an advertising campaign in support of the idea of having Canberra considered as Sydney's Second Airport. The slogan used was "Is the solution to Sydney's second airport still 20 years away? Less than 3 hours actually". This point of view was presented at "Canberra is the Only Serious Solution to Sydney's Air Traffic Problems."[24]

The Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese rejected Canberra International Airport's draft master plan in November 2008, on the grounds that it did not provide enough detail on the proposal to develop the airport into a freight hub; and that the airport's community consultation had been insufficient.[25] The Airport's 2005 master plan was also criticised by the then-Howard Government for not providing enough information.[17]

In the second half of 2008, Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd started referring to itself as "Canberra Airport".[26]

In early December 2007, plans were announced to construct a new terminal, with works commencing in July 2008, and completion set for September 2010.[27] When completed, the terminal would have six aerobridges (an increase of two), 32 check-in counters, (twice the current number), 2,500 car parking spaces (doubled), three times the baggage belt capacity, and the floor area of the lounge facilities would be quadrupled.[15][16]

These plans were placed on hold in late 2008 as a result of the Global economic crisis.[17]

In April 2009, Canberra Airport announced that it would spend $350 million on a number of infrastructure projects:[28]

  • three new jet aircraft parking positions – under construction
  • Two Structured Car Parks (each containing 1,000 parking spaces and an additional 450 spaces in two open air car parks) – Both completed
  • A new Southern concourse Terminal – Completed in late 2010
  • A Western concourse Terminal – Partially Opened in March 2013 and to be completed November 2013

Changes to the terminal included:[28]

  • International capability with dedicated customs, immigration and quarantine facilities
  • More than double the number of check-in counters (from 17 to 44)
  • A quadrupling of baggage capacity
  • A quadrupling of Airline Club Lounge areas
  • A two-storey roadside drop off and pick up system – departures on the upper level and arrivals on the lower level
  • An indoor taxi rank waiting area (still under construction) – a first for an Australian airport

It placed a 4.5-minute animated video of the planned finished product on its website.[29]

The project was given the go ahead by Canberra International Airport executive chairman Terry Snow, to start late 2009. It was approved by the Australian Government in February 2008. The new terminal increased space by 65%. Completed as part of the redevelopment were 10 airbridges; two four-level car parks; and a still under construction under-cover taxi rank.[30] Space will be made for the future requirements of international flights.[31]

In 2010, 8 Brindabella Circuit, a building located in the administration area of the Airport precinct, won the 5 Green Stars Australian Excellence Award.[32]

In November 2012, a national petition was started by 10-year-old Eve Cogan to name the new extensions after David Warren, inventor of the blackbox.[33][34] The petition has been supported by Captain C.B. Sully Sullenberger.[35]


In 2002, 2007 and 2013 Canberra Airport won the Australian Airports Association's Capital City Airport of the Year Award.[36][37]

Airport Terminal

Atrium interior looking out on to the tarmac

The building's two wings, the Southern Concourse and the Western Concourse are separated by an Atrium, the centrepiece of the terminal.[38]

Southern Concourse

Part of the Southern Concourse

Construction of the Southern Concourse was completed in late 2010 and came into service on 14 November.[39] Qantas uses its check-in counters and departure gates.[10] The Southern Concourse also includes The Qantas Club, The Qantas Business Class Lounge and The Qantas chairman's Lounge.

Western Concourse

The Western Concourse opened in March 2013 and conjoins onto the Southern Concourse Terminal. Virgin Australia and Brindabella Airlines use its check-in counters and departure gates.[40] The Western Concourse also includes the 300 seat Virgin Lounge and Virgin's invitation-only The Club.[41]

The western concourse also contains space for future customs, immigration and quarantine facilities next to the Virgin lounge on the upper floor and on the ground floor. These areas are to be opened when Canberra Airport adds international flights to its current domestic-only services.[42] If the current terminal set up were to remain unchanged then these international services would most likely use Gate 6 (as the gate is adjacent to specially designated escalators and lifts to the international processing facilities)

General Aviation Terminal

The General Aviation Terminal in Canberra Airport is a separate building located on the far west side of the Terminal Precinct.[43][44]

Noise, noise sharing and curfews

Approach and departure corridors lie over largely rural and industrial areas, although the instrument approach path (from the south) passes near the New South Wales suburb of Jerrabomberra, the city of Queanbeyan, and the Royal Australian Navy base, HMAS Harman, which has some barracks and housing.

Proposals have been made to the NSW Planning Minister by various developers to approve housing estates that are under the southern flight paths in New South Wales. Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd[14] has been vigorous in advertising its opposition to these plans on the basis of a general increase in noise levels over a wide corridor which is currently free of aircraft noise,[45] and concern that this will lead to the imposition of a curfew on the hours-of-operation of the airport.[46]

Curfew 4 Canberra[47] has been formed in response to the changes proposed in Canberra Airport's draft 2008 Master Plan, in particular the nighttime aircraftmovements and the impact this will have on the quality of life for all residents of the Canberra region. Its membership draws on the residents' associations from around the ACT. One of the key platforms is the introduction of a nighttime curfew at Canberra Airport. The core objectives of Curfew 4 Canberra include: secure an 11pm-6am curfew; oppose Canberra Airport becoming a 24-hour freight hub; oppose Canberra Airport becoming Sydney’s second airport; oppose the construction of a parallel (third) runway.


Access to and from the Canberra airport terminal is primarily by car, hire car or taxi. Canberra Cabs and partner taxi companies provide services to the airport taxi rank, with cabs waiting when flights come in.

Bus services

Royale Coach operates Airport Express, which provides daytime mini-bus services to Canberra City.[48]

Coach services operate from Canberra Airport to the New South Wales Snow Fields.[49]

No other bus services enter the airport terminal itself, however there are services to the nearby Brindabella Business Park which is approximately a five-minute walk to the terminal.

  • ACTION, Canberra's public bus service, operates two services during weekdays:[50]
    • to/from City : route 11
    • Woden : route 792 – peak only.

Road traffic and road traffic congestion

View of Canberra International Airport from Mount Ainslie

The road system around Canberra Airport and the road between Civic and Canberra Airport was being duplicated as at July 2008, partly funded by Canberra Airport and the ACT Government. Federal Labor has also committed to further road improvements in the area through the extension of the Monaro Highway.[52][53]

The Chief Minister of the ACT Government, Jon Stanhope, initially blamed the Commonwealth for the increased traffic congestion around the airport, which he claimed had occurred due to the construction of office buildings on airport land,[54] however, Mr Stanhope later stated that while he accepted the development of the airport added to the level of traffic on the roads, it was not the cause of the congestion during peak periods.[55] The ACT Government established a roundtable working group to examine the roads around the Airport and identify solutions to the road congestion through the Majura Valley.[56] The roundtable identified that the cause of the road traffic was increased traffic from Gungahlin;, the expansion of the airport; and Queanbeyan's growing population.[57][58] The working group recommended a staged approach to solving the traffic congestion, with Stage 1 including the duplication of Pialligo Avenue, Morshead Drive and Fairbairn Avenue.[59]


High-speed rail link proposal

On 10 February 2009, Canberra Airport released its preliminary draft master plan which announced that a high-speed rail link between Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne was being considered. The plan was shortlisted in December 2008 by Infrastructure Australia for further consideration, however it was the most expensive project shortlisted, and has not attracted any funding from any government. The decision to build the Second Sydney Airport at Badgery Creek has made a fast rail link to Canberra Airport unlikely in the foreseeable future.[60]

International Flights

The ACT Government and Canberra Airport are attempting to attract international airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, and Emirates or persuade Qantas or Virgin Australia to commence international flights from Canberra.[61][62] The airport argues there is a strong business case for flights to New Zealand. Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron said he believed there was a case to support about three flights a week to the capital of Wellington and another three to Auckland.[63] In addition, the airport believes in the viability of a direct daily flight to an Asian Hub airport (such as Singapore or Hong Kong) to accommodate one-stop flights to onwards destinations in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.[64] A population of 900,000 in its catchment area (approximately 75% of that of Adelaide which has 32 weekly international services from its airport), Canberra's status as Australia's capital city and the above average income of residents in the surrounding area provide more arguments in favour of international services at the airport.[64] As of 2015, these efforts have not been successful. In March of that year, Air New Zealand stated that was not planning to start flights to Canberra.[61]

A private charter flight has been the only recent international flight from the airport, costing several thousands to stage, showing that no demand exists for scheduled flights despite continued statement that such flights are in demand from the private owners.[65]

While the airport currently has facilities for customs and quarantine processing for international arrivals, they are made available and staffed only when an airline specifically makes a request and agrees to pay for them.[66]

Air Asia X is considering serving Canberra among other new airports in Australia.[67]

Future Traffic Trends

The projected traffic trends for the airport are on the decline,[68] as Federal Government cuts take effect and more work is shifted to Melbourne and Sydney in an effort to reduce costs with the ACT experiencing the largest fall in full-time positions in 2014 that any other state or territory.[69] Qantas is also downsizing operations at the airport.[70] However managing director of the airport Stephen Byron believes that the airport can grow with the increase in tourism for Canberra and the surrounding area, the establishment of nearby commercial and retail precincts and the potential for the airport to become a freight hub.[71]


Total passengers and aircraft movements

Year Actual
1997–98 1,824,515 38,446
1998–99 1,820,757 38,077
1999–00 1,969,221 41,025
2000–01 2,107,219 51,867
2001–02 1,841,302 39,716 90,281
2002–03 1,916,351 2,176,603 35,986 93,296
2003–04 2,303,422 39,418
2004–05 2,478,705 2,280,557 38,512
2005–06 2,550,129 38,182
2006–07 2,687,336 38,257
2007–08 2,853,480 41,177
2008–09 3,061,859 2,829,882 45,191
2009–10 3,258,396 44,201
2010–11 3,240,848 43,280
2014–15 3,476,797 116,072
2019–20 4,270,094
2024–25 5,212,007 146,159

Busiest domestic routes

Busiest domestic routes into and out of Canberra Airport (Year End 2013)[8]
Rank Airport Passengers handled  % Change
1 04 ! Sydney New South Wales 1,027,600 Decrease01 !2.4
2 03 ! Melbourne Victoria 994,500 Decrease02 !0.9
3 02 ! Brisbane Queensland 583,000 Decrease03 !3.7
4 01 ! Adelaide South Australia 182,200 Increase04 !4.1


  1. ^ "Board of Directors". Canberra Airport. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. 
  2. ^ YSCB – Canberra (PDF). AIP En Route Supplement from Airservices Australia, effective 29 May 2014, Aeronautical Chart
  3. ^ "Airport traffic data". Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE). 
  4. ^ "Canberra Airport (CBR) Information: Airport in Canberra Area, ACT, Australia, AU". 16 May 2011. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  5. ^ "Brindabella Airlines". 10 January 2000. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  6. ^ The Hub Newsletter, Issue 24, 2004 -Issue 24 is no longer available on-line.
  7. ^ Canberra is designated by the (Australian Government) Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government as a "Designated International Airport". (The categories of international airports are explained under the sub-heading "International Airports".)
  8. ^ a b c d Airport Traffic Data 1985–86 to 2010–11
  9. ^ 1 July to 30 June
  10. ^ a b c "Canberra's new terminal". Canberra Airport. Retrieved 30 May 2011. [dead link]
  11. ^ a b Brindabella Business Park,
  12. ^ a b Majura Park (retail precinct),
  13. ^ "Flying Kangaroos at Canberra Airport". Latest News. Canberra Airport. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  14. ^ a b "Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd". Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  15. ^ a b The Hub Newsletter, Issue 43, January 2008.
  16. ^ a b Information and updates about changes to the airport,
  17. ^ a b c McLennan, David (22 November 2008). "Feds bring airport's 24/7 ambitions back down to earth". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 22 November 2008. [dead link]
  18. ^ "Terminal map and directory". Canberra Airport. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  19. ^ "Airport reborn as old arch foe meets its end". Canberra Times. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  20. ^ "Fairbairn". Canberra Airport. 
  21. ^ Canberra Spatial Plan, March 2004, ACT Government.
  22. ^ "Home." Brindabella Airlines. Retrieved on 19 November 2013. "Brindabella Airlines Pty Ltd, 5 Rayner Road Canberra Airport PO Box 1542"
  23. ^ The Hub Newsletter, Issue 34, August 2006.
  24. ^ "Canberra is the Only Serious Solution to Sydney's Air Traffic Problems."[dead link]
  25. ^ "Airport plan lacked detail: Albanese". ABC News. 22 November 2008. Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  26. ^ For example, the Issue 45 of "The Hub", dated July 2008, uses the "Canberra International Airport" logo, whereas Issue 46, dated November 2008, uses a "Canberra Airport" logo.
  27. ^ "Canberra's new terminal". Canberra Airport. Retrieved 30 May 2011. [dead link]
  28. ^ a b "Project key facts"[dead link], AirVolution project, Canberra Airport Website. Retrieved on 11 April 2009.
  29. ^ Animated video, planned airport changes, Canberra Airport website. Retrieved on 11 April 2009.
  30. ^ "Still to come - Canberra Airport". Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  31. ^ "The Air Volution"[dead link], Information about Canberra's (planned) new air terminal, Canberra Airport website. Retrieved on 11 April 2009.
  32. ^ "5 Green Star 'Australian Excellence' Award". Canberra Airport. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  33. ^ Emily Watkins (22 November 2012). "Girl, 10, campaigns to honour black box inventor". News Ltd. Retrieved 30 November 2012. 
  34. ^ Ben Sandilands (5 January 2013). "The link between unsung hero David Warren and QF32". Crikey. 
  35. ^ Staff writers (23 January 2013). "Heroic pilot backs little Aussie girl's campaign". News Ltd. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  36. ^ "Powered by Google Docs" (PDF). Google. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  38. ^ "New Terminal - Canberra Airport". Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  39. ^ "Canberra's new terminal". [dead link]
  40. ^ "Airport opens new gateway to Canberra". ABC News. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  41. ^ "Virgin Australia opens new Canberra Airport lounge". Australian Business Traveller. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  42. ^ "Canberra Airport opens new Virgin Australia terminal, lounges this week". Australian Business Traveller. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  43. ^ "Microsoft Word - FINAL Canberra Airport 2009 Master Plan, Approved 28.09.09.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  44. ^ "Awards - Canberra Airport". Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  45. ^ This is referred to as "Noise Sharing". See "Aircraft Noise – Land Use Planning document". Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd. Retrieved 28 October 2007.  and Noise Sharing, Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd for an explanation of their rationale.
  46. ^ "Judge's Ruling says noise will be a problem at Tralee", The Hub, Issue 40 (September 2007), pg4. Canberra Airport Newsletter.
  47. ^ "Curfew 4 Canberra". Curfew 4 Canberra. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  48. ^ "Canberra Airport Express". Royale Limousines. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  49. ^ "Ski buses". Canberra Airport. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  50. ^ "ACTION Routes by Suburb". ACT Government. Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  51. ^ "Route 834". Qcity Transit. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  52. ^ "Labor party media release". 12 October 2008. Archived from the original on 30 March 2008. Retrieved 18 June 2008. 
  53. ^ "The Hub". Issue 45 (Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd). July 2008. Retrieved 18 June 2008. 
  54. ^ "Stanhope blames Commonwealth for airport congestion". ABC News. 7 March 2007. Retrieved 18 August 2007. 
  55. ^ "Letter from Mr Jon Stanhope to Mr Stephen Byron, 15 January 2007, contained in submission to the National Capital Authority Inquiry" (PDF). 15 January 2007. Retrieved 18 June 2008. [dead link]
  56. ^ "Airport Roads Roundtable". Jon Stanhope Media Release. Retrieved 19 August 2007. 
  57. ^ "Canberra Airport Roads Working Group – Interim Report". ACT Government. 1 June 2006. [dead link]
  58. ^ "Media Release: $15 million to Boost Road Access to Airport" (PDF). ACT Government. 1 October 2006. Retrieved 5 June 2007. 
  59. ^ "Canberra Airport Roads Working Group – Final Report". ACT Government. 1 October 2006. Retrieved 19 August 2007. 
  60. ^ Australian Government, Western Sydney airport, Infrastructure Australia, 4 December 2014, accessed 23 December 2014.
  61. ^ a b McIlroy, Tom (6 March 2015). "Air New Zealand Canberra flights not happening, despite Barr plea". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 6 March 2015. 
  62. ^ "Canberra woos Singapore Airlines". Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  63. ^ "Push for overseas flights into Canberra". Canberra Times. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  64. ^ a b "IKEA helps build case for international flights for Canberra Airport". Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  65. ^ "First international flight takes off from the all new Canberra Airport - Canberra Airport". Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  66. ^ Scott Parker and Clare Colley (12 December 2014). "United Airlines passengers stranded in Brisbane and Canberra after Sydney runway closure". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  67. ^ Ironside, Robyn. "AirAsia X eyeing off Avalon, Brisbane and Canberra". Perth Now. Retrieved 2015-05-09. 
  68. ^ "Canberra Airport the only Australian airport to record reduction in pax traffic for FY2010/11". Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  69. ^ "Federal government public service job cuts 'hurting ACT'". Canberra Times. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  70. ^ "Qantas job losses at Canberra Airport". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  71. ^ "Traffic at Canberra Airport down for the fourth year in a row". Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  72. ^ "Pelican gets green light to start Newcastle-Canberra route". Australian Aviation. 27 May 2015. 
  73. ^ [1][dead link]
  74. ^ "Where We Fly - Canberra Airport". Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  75. ^ a b 2005 Canberra Airport Master Plan pp.24–25

External links

About Canberra International Airport (IATA: CBR, ICAO: YSCB)

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