Canberra International Airport (IATA: CBR, ICAO: 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, it is the 8th busiest airport in Australia. Until the airline's collapse in 2013, the airport was the main base for Brindabella Airlines. 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. 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. 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.
- Brindabella Business Park
- Airport Redevelopment
- Airport Terminal
- Noise, noise sharing and curfews
- Airlines and destinations
- See also
- External links
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.
- 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. 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.
The lease to the site was sold to Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd 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, but these plans were placed on hold in late 2008 due to the global financial crisis. However, in April 2009, Canberra Airport announced that it would spend $350million to redevelop the Airport Concourse with completion currently due in November 2013.
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.
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. 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.
Brindabella Business Park
Over a dozen office buildings have also been built on airport land at Brindabella Business Park and Fairbairn. A retail precinct called Majura Park has been established on airport land along Majura Road.
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.
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."
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. The Airport's 2005 master plan was also criticised by the then-Howard Government for not providing enough information.
In the second half of 2008, Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd started referring to itself as "Canberra Airport".
In early December 2007, plans were announced to construct a new terminal, with works commencing in July 2008, and completion set for September 2010. 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.
In April 2009, Canberra Airport announced that it would spend $350 million on a number of infrastructure projects:
- 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:
- 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.
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. Space will be made for the future requirements of international flights.
In 2010, 8 Brindabella Circuit, a building located in the administration area of the Airport precinct, won the 5 Green Stars Australian Excellence Award.
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. The petition has been supported by Captain C.B. Sully Sullenberger.
The building's two wings, the Southern Concourse and the Western Concourse are separated by an Atrium, the centrepiece of the terminal.
Construction of the Southern Concourse was completed in late 2010 and came into service on 14 November. Qantas uses its check-in counters and departure gates. The Southern Concourse also includes The Qantas Club, The Qantas Business Class Lounge and The Qantas chairman's Lounge.
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. The Western Concourse also includes the 300 seat Virgin Lounge and Virgin's invitation-only The Club.
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. 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
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 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, and concern that this will lead to the imposition of a curfew on the hours-of-operation of the airport.
Curfew 4 Canberra 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.
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:
- to/from City : route 11
- Woden : route 792 – peak only.
Road traffic and road traffic congestion
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.
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, 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. 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. 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. 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.
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.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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.
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.
Air Asia X is considering serving Canberra among other new airports in Australia.
Future Traffic Trends
The projected traffic trends for the airport are on the decline, 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. Qantas is also downsizing operations at the airport. 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.
Airlines and destinations
|Qantas||Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney|
|QantasLink operated by Cobham||Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney|
|QantasLink operated by Eastern Australia Airlines||Melbourne, Sydney|
|QantasLink operated by Sunstate Airlines||Brisbane|
|Virgin Australia||Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney|
|Virgin Australia Regional Airlines||Melbourne, Sydney|
(As of May 2015)
|Destination||Weekly number of flights |
Total passengers and aircraft movements
Busiest domestic routes
|Rank||Airport||Passengers handled||% Change|
|1||04 ! Sydney New South Wales||1,027,600||01 !2.4|
|2||03 ! Melbourne Victoria||994,500||02 !0.9|
|3||02 ! Brisbane Queensland||583,000||03 !3.7|
|4||01 ! Adelaide South Australia||182,200||04 !4.1|
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- 2005 Canberra Airport Master Plan pp.24–25
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