REVEALED: Revamp of Ballina airport terminal now finished
PASSENGERS departing from Ballina's airport no longer feel like they are being crammed into an old-fashioned train station-style waiting room.
The renovations of the inside of the departure lounge at the terminal are all-but complete, and manager of the Ballina Shire Council-owned airport, Paul Tsikleas, said the terminal has "matured” since the first one opened 33 years ago.
The only thing left to do inside is to add some aesthetic touches, like plants.
The new-look larger departure lounge now caters for double the number of passengers -- about 360 people, or two jets -- with an open plan that includes a bar, cafe and a retail shop, which opened a week or so ago, all within the secure area.
Mr Tsikleas said passengers flying in and out of the region leave with an impression of their travel experience.
And being crammed into a small departure room was not a great experience for the 530,000 passengers who use the airport each year.
The new departure area allows passengers to sit in lounge-style chairs, or to be tucked away in a relatively private corner to work or have a meeting while they are waiting for their plane.
And with an exit point from the departure lounge, family and friends who are not travelling can sit with passengers in the secure area.
They can grab a famous Ballina Burger from the Beach Grill, or pick up some snacks, something to read or replace a lost phone accessory at the Relay store.
As for the roadworks outside the terminal, Mr Tsikleas said they were scheduled to be completed by the end of August, depending on the weather, creating a new drop-off and pick-up plaza.
When those works are finished, there will be a reprieve until later this year when work will start on the car park, with a boom gate facility, and a new main vehicle entrance which will link with Airport Boulevard to be constructed from now.
Currently, four airlines operate in and out of Ballina, with direct flights to Sydney, Newcastle and Melbourne.
The total budget for the terminal and car park works was $6.9m with the terminal expansion supported by a $4.5m State Government grant.