Canberra Airport is looking to Asia for its first international route and has reportedly met with at least four overseas airlines, in addition to Qantas and Virgin Australia, as the airport seeks to bust out of its current domestic-only status.
Air New Zealand, Emirates, Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines have all been courted by Canberra Airport and senior members of the ACT Government to press their case.
According to Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron, it’s only a matter of time before the airport’s departure board lists its first international service – and more flight will quickly follow.
“The reality is, when we crack our first international flight to Asia in an A330 or 777, soon enough we’ll have five [flights] a week, to seven a week, to 12 a week with another airline to another city,” Byron told The Canberra Times.
“‘Everyone will say ‘why didn’t we get into this one earlier?’ But it’s just getting that first one and making sure it works.”
Byron is quick to point out that Canberra’s potential passenger base is larger than it seems, with ACT’s population of 373,000 buoyed by the southern and southwestern centres of New South Wales where people must currently schlep to Sydney before flying overseas.
This also sets up Canberra as an ‘overflow’ airport as Sydney becomes more congested, helped by the fact that Canberra has no curfew.
Ready for take-off…
Last year’s redevelopment of Canberra Airport included an ‘international terminal’ zone with space set for aside for customs, immigration and quarantine facilities, although the fitout won’t take place until international services are ready to begin.
The terminal’s departure lounges and aerobridges will be capable of switching from a domestic function to an international gate, the airport says, with two of the existing 14 boarding gates earmarked for international flights and provisions for a further six international boarding gates.
But the capital city airport’s quest for international flights has been a long one.
Almost three years ago, Byron told Australian Business Traveller that he expected services from Canberra “will be flying across the Tasman to both Auckland and Wellington by the end of 2012, and I think it’ll be in the first quarter of 2013 that we’ll see one of the airlines commence services to Singapore.”
Singapore Airlines high on the list?
The ACT market is already capable of serving a daily A330 service to Singapore, according to Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr.
“There’s about 7,000 (people) a week who come into and out of the ACT and more than half of them are hubbing through Singapore,” Barr said in November last year.
“A full service airline like Singapore is a better fit for the Canberra market [but Singapore Airlines] are not the only airline we’re talking to,” he added.
Source : Australian Business Traveller