Brisbane Airport will start commissioning activities for its new runway early next year ahead of a scheduled launch of operations in mid-2020, after an almost eight-year preparation and construction project.

Brisbane Airport will start commissioning activities for its new runway early next year ahead of a scheduled launch of operations in mid-2020, after an almost eight-year preparation and construction project.

Once the new runway is operational, the Queensland airport says it will have the most capacity and the most efficient runway system in Australia, effectively doubling its current capacity to support more than 100 aircraft movements an hour.

As the project nears completion, the airport continues to explore network expansion opportunities, with direct links to India at the top of its wish list.

Site preparation and reclamation work on the 3,300m long, 60m wide runway and 12km of associated taxiways started in July 2012. All concrete has been installed, while the application of more than 100,000 tonnes of aircraft-grade asphalt is nearing completion, with shoulders, perimeter roads and finishing touches under way, says the airport. Line marking will start in January and commissioning activities will commence across the entire airfield.

“The exact date [of opening] is still not set, but the project remains on track for mid-2020,” confirms the airport. “Once the runway is open, all applicable flights – north or west landing and departures – will commence from day one,” it explains, with no phased implementation planned.

In the meantime, work also continues on the upgrade of the airport’s domestic terminal, which was made possible following the return of the terminal lease to Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) at the end of last year. BAC now manages, maintains and operates the entire terminal. That terminal is undergoing a A$40 million ($27 million) redevelopment in a staged 24-month project that is due for completion by late 2020. The work has included upgrades to terminal facilities, way-finding, gate lounges, lighting, Wi-Fi and completely redeveloping the food and beverage and retail offering.

In early 2020, BAC will also start the security upgrade project to meet new security requirements from the Australian government for all Australian airports. This will include replacing metal detectors with non-invasive body scanners and replacing existing carry-on and checked bag screening with advanced screening technology.

The new runway comes as the airport prepares for a further expansion of its route network and annual throughput. In financial year 2019, the airport handled 23.8 million passengers, with international traffic climbing to 6.2 million on the back of 4.5% growth.

International passenger traffic for the next few years is forecast to grow on average by 4% to 6%. The airport has welcomed a number of new services and increases in frequencies this year, including the launch in June by Thai AirAsia X of services between Brisbane and Bangkok; Singapore Airlines upgrading to the Airbus A350 on its four daily services to Singapore; Royal Brunei Airlines launching services between Brunei and Brisbane in July; and EVA Air introducing additional capacity with the Boeing 787-10 in October.

Further route developments will see EVA increase to daily on the Taipei route in December and January, and increase from four to five times weekly services starting February, while China Southern will introduce additional Guangzhou flights between December and February.

In a major coup for the airport, Qantas will launch Brisbane-San Francisco and Brisbane-Chicago services in February and April, respectively, with the Chicago service to be the country’s first direct connection with that city.

The airport is hopeful of adding direct services to India within two years, with Delhi-Brisbane being its largest unserved route, where there is a two-way demand of around 73,000 passengers. It has been seeking a direct service from India for some time, with Brisbane and the Gold Coast increasingly popular in the Indian market, and that passengers are currently travelling via Singapore with Singapore Airlines or Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia Airlines.

The airport is also looking to unlock second-tier cities in China, as well as hoping to reinstate the direct Brisbane-Beijing service which was suspended last year. The Southeast Asia region in general is also a priority, particularly Ho Chi Minh City and Jakarta in the short term, says the airport.

Brisbane is also looking to add further North American services. “We are keen to see a connection from Dallas into Brisbane in the medium term, and for the longer term, we remain highly interested in a service connecting us with Seattle. We are also interested in a direct route to South America,” the airport adds.