$6.9 million Ballina airport upgrade now has lift off
THERE might be a little bit of pain for those travelling from Ballina Byron Gateway Airport over the next 12 months, but it will be worth it, says Ballina's mayor Cr David Wright.
Work has started on a major upgrade to the terminal which will see the departure lounge increased by about 50 per cent in size, an extension to the cafe and the addition of a retail outlet.
Cr Wright said the annual passenger numbers at the Ballina Shire Council-owned airport, which is the third largest in NSW, had hit 528,000 at the end of June, and the revamped terminal would cater to those numbers and the expected future growth, with discussions in place with airlines about more flights.
The current terminal is a far cry from the adjacent brick building housing the airport's offices, which was the original terminal when the airport opened 32 years ago.
Airport manager, Paul Tsikleas, said the $4.5m terminal expansion was part of a $6.9m upgrade to the airport precinct, which will include changes to the car park.
He said the number of seats in the departure lounge would increase from 160 to 360, which would allow the airport to service two departing jets at the same time.
Also, the upgraded cafe/bar and retail outlet would be within the secure section of the departure lounge, but still accessible to family and friends bidding their farewells.
To fit that all in, the terminal building will be extended into the current drop-off/pick-up bay which is now closed to traffic.
Mr Tsikleas said the work will be staged so it won't interfere with peak periods like Christmas holidays and Easter, but he said travellers should allow some extra time when heading to the airport while construction is underway.
Planning for the car park isn't complete, but it is understood a boom gate system will be installed.
Woolams has the tender for the construction work.