Ambitious airport expansion plans
MILLIONS of dollars could be spent upgrading the Ballina-Byron Gateway Airport, with plans to bring more than 500,000 passengers a year into the Northern Rivers regional hub within the next four years.
A development application has been lodged for one of the first steps of the ambitious expansion plan – an increase in the size of the airport’s arrivals area.
It would include moving the car rental booths to reduce congestion in the arrival-departure hall.
Space would also be provided for new bus transport booths and two store rooms.
The awning over the set-down and pick-up area would also be extended.
Airport manager Neil Weatherson said the proposed changes – which would cost about $400,000 – would increase space inside the terminal building by about 70sqm.
“It is a good step forward,” he said.
“We are starting to get ourselves organised now.
"We’ve done the passenger screening point and we’ve made the departure lounge bigger.
“This (new DA) is about the arrivals area, which is a bit small and squeezy at the moment.
"It’s the next stage and it’s really good news.
“We’re doing the upgrades in bite-sized little pieces, but it all starts to add up and it will make a big difference in making the airport a more relaxed and stress-free place for our passengers.”
Mr Weatherson said his target was to have between 500,000 and 600,000 passengers a year going through the Ballina-Byron airport.
“We are on track,” he said.
He said the Ballina Shire Council and the councillors had been supportive of his plans to improve the airport.
But a lot more work still needs to be done in future years, including the widening of the runway by 15m, at an expected cost of more than $10 million.
Work to increase the size of the arrivals area would improve the efficiency, amenity and operation of the airport and provide “positivesocial and economic benefits”.
PASSENGER NUMBERS TO GROW
- It is hoped the Ballina-Byron Gateway Airport will bring in between 500,000 and 600,000 passengers a year by 2015.
- Passenger numbers increased by about 14% from last year.
- Jetstar’s Ballina-Melbourne route has seen 90% load factors in recent weeks.