SOARING: Ballina Byron Gateway Airport management has predicted passenger numbers will reach 580,000 by 2021/2022.
SOARING: Ballina Byron Gateway Airport management has predicted passenger numbers will reach 580,000 by 2021/2022. Marc Stapelberg

Ballina airport to cater for 580,000 passengers

DESPITE a recent funding setback, Ballina Shire Council is hopeful they will continue to see growth at the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport.

A council spokeswoman said council was pleased the Federal Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics continued to rank the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport among the top 10 regional airports in Australia, based on passenger numbers.

"This growth is set to continue with passenger numbers forecast to reach 580,000 by 2021/2022," she said.

"Our average annual growth rate is in excess of 7 per cent per annum and this has been the case for the past 10 years."

To cater for this rapid increase in growth, and provide an improved travelling experience for passengers, Ballina Shire Council will soon complete a passenger terminal and carpark upgrade.

The spokeswoman said this upgrade has doubled the capacity of the departure lounge, enhanced security screening and improved dining facilities and amenities for travellers.

She said the growth in passenger numbers and the expansion of the airport was critical to increasing tourism, employment and investment attraction in the Northern Rivers Region.

The spokeswoman said the BBGA team members would continue to work on route development, focusing on the introduction of new airline partners and destinations.

Future upgrades and widening of the runway

Ballina Shire Council would continue its investment with the next project being to strengthen and widen the runway.

The spokeswoman said this project was required to cater for new aircraft fleet from Boeing and Airbus as well as further expansion of the terminal's airside facilities.

This will include:

  • Widening (from 30m to 45m) and strengthening of the current runway.
  • Expanding existing aircraft bays to accommodate parking of larger aircraft.
  • Additional aircraft parking bays.
  • Further expansion of the terminal building including a larger arrivals hall with dual baggage carousels and improved back of house infrastructure, such as baggage make-up and breakdown areas.
  • Development of the General Aviation Precinct to coincide with the construction of Airport Boulevard and the expansion of the Southern Cross Industrial Estate.

A council report earlier this year said the airport's financial viability was "at risk" without a $28m upgrade to its runway and aircraft apron.

Staff recommended at least half of that sum be funded through grants, the remainder with loans.

The runway will need to be widened from its current 30m to 45m, to allow Jetstar's future fleet of Airbus A321s to take off and land there. Jetstar users currently make up 77 per cent of airport's airline passengers



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