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Queensland Airport Master Plan Aims for Gold

The Federal Government has approved Gold Coast Airport’s 2017 Master Plan, which details improvements to the airport’s facilities over the next two decades.

Passenger numbers will double to 16.6 million by 2037 and the Plan will address this growth. Terminal parking will expand as will the linkages to public transport terminals. A spokesperson of the airport said the Plan focuses on infrastructure for aviation and also commercial facilities for development over the next five years. Since the last Master Plan in 2011, the airport has enjoyed in excess of 6.4 million passengers per year.

A number of projects are already underway. The airport is upgrading the southern end of the airfield. Three new Code E aircraft parking stands are currently under construction. The airport is also developing two aerobridges. The Master Plan does not however detail any major developments to the Airport. That requires further community consultation and government approval.

The most infamous project underway is the installation of an Instrument Landing System (ILS). It is currently being constructed for flights landing in Runway 14 from the north. Two-thirds of all Gold Coast Airport’s flights land on this runway. The ILS was said to only be used 10 per cent of time on fine weather days and when Runway 14 was in use. The airport will also use it in emergencies and in poor weather conditions.

However, noise complaints led community groups to launch legal action against the ILS’ installation. Local members of the community complained about lack of sleep, disruptions to daily life and lack of consultations about the change. They claimed that upon the ILS’ completion, the situation would only get worse. The Administrative Appeals Tribunal dismissed the complaints brought by community groups and allowed the project to go ahead. The airport has agreed to noise reduction procedures. Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said last year that no additional residents will be exposed to noise levels higher than 60 dB(A).

The ILS is probably long overdue. Gold Coast is one of the country’s 12 busiest airports that did not have one. The ILS expects to make the airport more reliable by minimising delays and diversions in bad weather.

The large-scale infrastructure project should finalise by 2018 in time for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. This is a striking opportunity for the state’s economy. Figures estimate 5,000 athletes, 117,000 visitors and thousands of others including media representatives and government officials will attend. Having the airport complete by then will likely bring significant benefits for Queensland.

The Master Plan will be available for viewing on the Gold Coast Airport website in September.