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Decades in the making, now rubber hits the road as new runway welcomes first flight


It has taken 15 years and more than $1 billion but Brisbane Airport’s new runway will be opened this weekend.

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BAC chief executive Gert-Jan de Graaff said the new runway was symbolic of the very firm belief that people will start flying again and the airport terminals “will once again be full of happy people looking forward to visiting their families, their holidays or to travel to do business.”

“The last few months have been difficult for everyone in the aviation and travel industries, as well as the whole community, but we have never lost sight of the fact that this project has been built for the long term. It will serve us well for many decades to come,” de Graaff said

De Graaff said thousands of people had worked on the project over the decades.

“This new runway is so much more than asphalt; it is an enabler for recovery and growth across all facets of business, with an estimated 7800 new jobs created by 2035 and an additional $5 billion in annual economic benefit to the region” he said.

“Now more than ever, it is crucial that we have the infrastructure and mechanisms in place to allow our great city and state to recover from the COVID-19 global pandemic, and Brisbane Airport, and this new runway will play a strong part in that.”

Throughout the life of the project, more than 3740 people were inducted to work there, with a peak of 650 people on site in mid-2019. More than 320 subcontractors were engaged during the project – 90 per cent of which were based in south east Queensland – putting in approximately 3.3 million manhours.

The new runway landed under budget at $1.1 billion, a saving of $200 million on initial estimates.

By 2040 it’s expected to contribute $5.3 billion to the Qld economy and help support one in 70 jobs in Queensland. By 2029, it expects 50,000 people to be employed at the airport precinct.

According to the PwC report, Brisbane Airport with its new runway enable a massive one in 20 jobs in Queensland, including almost doubling its current direct jobs number from 24,000 to 46,000, and another 21,000 indirect jobs across the state by 2040-41.

The runway will force changes to flight paths over Brisbane but the airport has the largest noise buffer zone of any capital city airport in Australia.

Official documents indicate that drawing a straight line from the end of the current runway, the nearest residence is about 6.7 km away. Using the same straight line approach, the distance from the end of Brisbane’s new runway to the nearest residence is around 6 km.

Brisbane Airport will move to parallel runway operations. Generally, aircraft departing to or arriving from the west or the north will land and depart on the new runway, while aircraft departing to or arriving from the south or east will land and depart on the current runway.

The new runway has taken eight years to develop, but planning began as far back as the 1970s.

The need for the new runway was based on forecasts which indicated passenger numbers each year would grow to more than 48 million by 2040 and the new parallel runway system was needed to service this forecast demand.

Brisbane Airport said the parallel runway system provided the best opportunity to maximise the number of aircraft that could fly into and out of an airport. It will allow up to 110 aircraft movements per hour.

“Once operational, Brisbane will have the most efficient and most capacity of any airport in Australia,” a spokesman said.

The position of the airport on Moreton Bay would also allow more flights over the bay, particularly overnight giving improved noise outcomes for the community.

Forecasts suggest the airport precinct will be home to about 50,000 workers by 2029.



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