Canberra Airport talks up performance of Singapore Airlines international flights

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Canberra Airport has described the first three months of Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) international flights as an “outstanding success”.

SIA’s four times a week Singapore-Canberra-Wellington flights kicked off in late September 2016, returning international service to the Australian capital for the first time in more than a decade.

Canberra Airport said on Monday official figures showed the Boeing 777-200 operated flights achieved average load factors of 83 per cent in September/October 2016.

Further, Canberra Airport head of aviation Matthew Brown said the performance of the route was “even stronger” in November and December.

““This is a remarkably strong performance for a new route. We are very happy with this result, as is Singapore Airlines,” Brown said in a statement.

““Based on these figures, the viability of the route shows that it is well established and becoming more popular”.”

Canberra is SIA’s sixth destination in Australia alongside Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. The airline group’s regional wing Silkair also serves Cairns and Darwin with narrowbody equipment.

It is the first scheduled international passenger service to Canberra since the short-lived Air Pacific (now Fiji Airways) flights to Nadi ended in 2004.

The flight also links the capitals of New Zealand and Australia for the first time.

Brown said the airport was hopeful SIA would add to its current schedule of four flights a week in the period ahead.

“We are in constant dialogue with Singapore Airlines and are pushing for the addition of the fifth service in the near future, but understand that this will be a commercial decision by the airline”,” Brown said.

There might be more international seats to fill out of Canberra from as early as the second half of calendar 2017, with Qatar Airways planning to launch service to the Australian capital.

In November, Qatar named Canberra as one of eight new destinations being added to its fast-growing network.

The oneworld alliance member indicated flights to Canberra would begin some time in the 2017/18 timeframe, without providing any further details, such as frequencies and operating aircraft type.

The Australian capital would be Qatar’s fifth destination in this country. It currently serves Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney nonstop from its Doha hub.

Australian Aviation

Canberra airport to trial full body scanners-

May 23 2016 – 12:00AM

Christopher Knaus

Flag of the Australian Capital Territory

Full-body scanners will be trialled at Canberra Airport from this week, as preparations continue for international flights from Canberra to Singapore and New Zealand in September.

But the machines are unlikely to raise the kinds of privacy concerns expressed at airports outside of Australia, because they avoid showing the operator actual imagery of the user’s body.

Melbourne Airport trialled full body scanners in 2011.
Melbourne Airport trialled full body scanners in 2011. Photo: Craig Abraham

Canberra Airport will begin the trial on Monday, setting up body scanners at the domestic security point temporarily.

The scanners are now required for international airports, and will be in use from the start of Singapore Airlines’ international flights to Wellington and Singapore on September 21.

The scanners show representations of the person.
The scanners show representations of the person. Photo: Craig Abraham

The airport’s trial will offer passengers the opportunity to volunteer to be scanned, to help staff test the machines and fine-tune their use.

The machines require the user to stand on a designated spot, turn around 360 degrees, and wait briefly while being cleared by the operator.

These scanners, produced by Smiths Detection, show the operator only a generic graphical representation of a gender-neutral human body.

They automatically recognise concealed objects, and highlight them on the graphic for the operator.

That differs from other technology used abroad, which produce detailed images of a person’s body and relies on the user searching for signs of concealed objects. That technology has sparked privacy concerns in other countries.

The machines to be used in Canberra, named the eqo body scanner, are new to the Australian market, but are common in Europe, Asia, and New Zealand.

They use millimetre-wave technology, which is used by everyday technology like mobile phones, to detect concealed objects.

Full-body scanners were trialled at Sydney and Melbourne airports in 2011, and introduced in Brisbane in 2012.

The trial in Canberra comes four months ahead of the start of international flights in and out of Canberra for the first time in more than a decade.

A new lounge and international section is planned to accommodate the Singapore Airlines services to Wellington and Singapore, and construction of a new customs and immigration screening facility is also taking place.

Roughly 120 jobs have been created through the construction of the new terminal lounge.

Singapore Airlines began recruiting for 15 jobs at their local office this month, advertising sales, support, and other administrative roles online.

 

Source : The Canberra Times

Canberra Airport land dispute sees government abandon $98 million valuation

December 22, 2015 – 1:00PM

Kirsten Lawson

CHIEF ASSEMBLY REPORTER FOR THE CANBERRA TIMES.

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Canberra Airport's Stephen Byron: 'We had to swallow the pill to move on'.

Canberra Airport’s Stephen Byron: ‘We had to swallow the pill to move on’. Photo: Jay Cronan

The ACT government valued the Canberra Airport land at $98 million in 2013-14, sparking a dispute that saw the government settling recently at less than one-quarter the amount.

The government has now set the airport’s rateable land value at $23.7 million in a 15-year deal that includes a formula for increasing the value as extra floor space is added to the airport’s commercial area.

The airport leases 430 hectares from the Commonwealth, including the Majura commercial area where Costco, Masters, Woolworths, Big W and other stores operate. The stores all sublease to the airport so don’t pay separate rates to the ACT.

Ikea is not part of the airport lease, but the ACT government says it will not disclose the rateable value of the block until the end of the financial year.

When the airport lease was signed in 1998 the land was value at $1.6 million, and the airport was billed $32,800 for rates. Since then, the unimproved value of the land has been steadily increased by the ACT.

By 2005-06, the land was valued at $3 million and the rates bill had jumped to $133,300. In 2012-13, the valuation had jumped to $23 million and the rates bill to $643,500. Then came the revaluation to $98 million in 2013-14.

The dispute that has now been settled, with the government passing legislation in November to set the value at $23.7 million, indexed according to increases in Canberra’s commercial property, and revised as extra commercial floor space is added. That means a rates bill this year of $1.14 million. While the airport is understood to have sought a valuation closer to $10-$12 million, it has signed up to the deal.

Airport managing director Stephen Byron said the airport “explicitly said we don’t want to pay no rates, we want to pay reasonable rates”.

Asked whether he was happy with the deal, he said, “It is what it is, and it’s been agreed”. But he pointed out that the airport was now paying 35 times the rates it paid when its lease began 17 years ago.

“At the end of the day we were pleased to reach agreement because it was frustrating our ability to cooperate on a whole range of other much more important business matters,” he said. “We had to swallow the pill to move on.”

An ACT government spokesperson would not release airport rates figures, saying it was taxpayer information and not made publicly available.

The airport was a unique site, and more difficult to value than other properties, partly because there were no comparable leases, he said. It was also under a different planning and development regime administered by the Commonwealth.

“The unique combination of the Crown Lease for the airport’s site which was developed when the airport was privatised, and the Airport’s essential infrastructure, results in the need for this alternative methodology,” the spokesperson said.

“The ACT government and Canberra airport believe in maintaining a cooperative working relationship which will encourage the integration of the airport with Canberra and its surrounds.”

When the bill was introduced in September, Chief Minister Andrew Barr said it would ensure the airport paid its fair share and avoid mounting legal and other dispute costs.

The airport argues that because the airport is on commonwealth land it has no statutory obligation to pay rates – although its lease with the Commonwealth requires it to come to an agreement on rates.The airport also points out that its lease is not renewable but reverts to the Commonwealth after 99 years, and it comes with an obligation to build and operate a runway.

Source : Canberra Times

Airport claims inclusion in future light rail plan

May 2, 2015 – 11:04PM

Mark Sawa

Northside Chronicle reporter

Minister for Capital Metro’s spokesman says no commitment has been made to any business entity or group about light rail routes.

EXCLUSIVE

The ACT government has assured Canberra Airport it will be included as a route in the next stage of Capital Metro, an airport representative claims.

Although no shovel has broken ground for construction of the $800-million first stage, the Sunday Canberra Times understands the airport is one of several potential future routes being considered.

Canberra Airport manager of planning and environment Kathryn Scarano​ told a North Canberra Community Council meeting last month the airport had been included as a potential route in the stage two proposal for Capital Metro.

“We haven’t seen any detail about a route, although we have had confirmation from the ACT government that a link to the airport is included in stage two,” she said.

Ms Scarano said she expected plans for stage two would be released for public consultation this year.

“We are big supporters of Capital Metro and we are big supporters of Canberra Airport and all public transport networks integrating the airport within the system,” she said.

A spokesman for the Minister for Capital Metro, Simon Corbell​, denied any commitment had been made about the staging of future light rail routes to any business entity or group.

“The government is working on a light rail master plan for a Canberra-wide light rail network,” he said. “Public consultation on the light rail master plan will take place in due course.”

The ACT government had expected to release the draft master plan early this year to inform public discussion on potential routes for stage two.

Canberra Airport has lobbied hard to be included in future light rail plans.

In 2013 it put together a submission that proposed a route from the Canberra CBD through Russell out to the airport via the Royal Military College at Duntroon.

The claim from Canberra Airport that it is part of the second stage plan comes as the airport makes a strong pitch to lure more 5500 public servants to Brindabella Business Park from the soon-to-be merged Immigration and Customs departments.

This week a draft development plan for a 38,000 square metre, seven-storey building at 9 Molonglo Drive was lodged by the team at the Brindabella Business Park.

The building next door, 3 Molonglo Drive, has another 36,000 square metres of office accommodation that could easily be knocked into one behemoth office complex of the right size to fulfil DIBP’s stated requirement.

The 12-kilometre Capital Metro first stage will have 11 tram stops connecting Gungahlin to the city centre.

Construction is expected to occur between 2016 and 2019.

 

The Canberra Times

Arrests at Canberra Airport tripling in one year

February 14, 2015 – 10:30PM

Matthew Raggatt

Reporter at The Canberra Times

Increased security scrutiny and sophisticated detection techniques are the major factors behind a tripling of arrests at Canberra Airport involving prohibited weapons and items last year.

In the year where Australia’s terror alert level was raised to high for the first time, Melbourne and Sydney airports also had major spikes, arrests were up 189 per cent and 50 per cent respectively at the nation’s two largest airports, exclusively obtained federal police figures showed.

ANU College of Asia and Pacific visiting fellow Clarke Jones said the arrests rarely had a terrorism connection but were a reflection of an increased security focus.

“I suppose what is alarming is the number of weapons  being detected and the increase in arrest rates does suggest we were missing things in the first place,” he said.

“You’ve got personnel increase as a result of the security level being raised … certainly you’ve seen [that] at airports because of that concern in violent extremist movements and potentially coming in from overseas from war hotspots Syria and Iraq, so naturally you’d see an increase in the detection of prohibited weapons and potentially arrests.”

Aviation expert Desmond Ross said aviation authorities were becoming more efficient and careful in regards security procedures.

“We’ve got better and smarter equipment today, the explosive detection devices at airports, the x-rays, body scanners,” he said.

“The new technology is more effective than it would have been even five years ago.”

The Australian Federal Police dismissed there had been a dramatic crime rise at airports.

A spokesman said the statistical increases could be “largely explained” by changes in the way data was collected and reported.

No details on these changed methods were provided.

“The data also reflects increasingly effective screening practices occurring at airports,” an AFP spokesman said.

The most common cause of Canberra arrests, up from 19 in 2013 to 56 last year, was for prohibited weapons at screening points. A crackdown on prohibited items – which include any blunt objects which could be used to bludgeon and any sharp items which could cause bodily harm – led to 18 arrests, up from three a year before.

The number of offences – generally leading to charges – rose 280 per cent in Canberra last year – the 76 offences reported eclipsed the number in the five prior years combined.

Prohibited weapon and item offences were the lead cause of Melbourne’s boom, accounting for 97 of the 101 arrests.

Sydney airport’s spike was also due to weapon and item offences in addition to 32 arrests for unauthorised access. There had been no equivalent arrests in 2013.

Canberra Airport had a slight decline in overall passenger numbers in 2014, while Sydney had a 1.7 per cent rise and Melbourne numbers were up 4  per cent.

A Canberra Airport spokeswoman said increased security measures implemented at the airport last year, confirmed in October, were unrelated to the AFP figures.

“We don’t comment on matters related to airport security, however we are not concerned as the apparent increase is in line with other major airports,” she said.

“We believe Canberra as a city is well-served by people who know what they are doing with respect to counter-terrorism, given that Parliament House is located here, not to mention the Defence presence.”

The AFP did not respond to questions seeking details on the most common weapons and items discovered.

 

Source : The Canberra Times

Virgin Australia flight makes emergency landing at Canberra Airport

January 16, 2015 – 7:15PM

Megan Gorrey

Reporter at The Canberra Times

A Virgin Australia plane was forced to make an emergency landing at Canberra Airport after a cockpit indicator light came on mid-flight on Friday.

Passengers on Flight VA1179 from Albury to Sydney had to get off the plane when it arrived at the airport shortly after 5.30pm.

Two fire trucks escorted the plane along the tarmac, which a Canberra Airport spokeswoman said was a typical precaution.

A Virgin Australia spokesman said the aircraft “landed safely in Canberra and without incident”.

“In line with standard operating procedures, the captain decided to divert to Canberra as a precautionary measure after a cockpit indication light illuminated,” he said.

“Engineers have now cleared the aircraft to return to service.”

The emergency stop delayed the plane by two hours and it was set to arrive in Sydney at 7.30pm.

Source : The SydneY Morning Herald

New Canberra Airport tower still `5-10 years’ away despite expectations

December 6, 2014 – 10:30PM

Matthew Raggatt

Reporter at The Canberra Times

On watch: An officer keeps watch at the Canberra Airport control tower last month.

On watch: An officer keeps watch at the Canberra Airport control tower last month. Photo: Jay Cronan

Canberra Airport will continue to wait for a new control tower, with construction slated to occur in the “medium term” — the same priority level as five years ago.

As medium term was defined in the airport’s master plans as the next “5-10 years”, the city could have expected this year’s draft plan to include a move into the short term column – defined, equally as broadly, as “within five years”.

An Airservices Australia spokesman said the exact timing for the construction of a new tower was still to be determined.

“Airservices has been undertaking an upgrade of our facilities nationally as part of our commitment to deliver a combined Civil-Military Air Traffic System,” he said.

“The second phase of our tower upgrade program over the next two years involves extending the life of Brisbane and Cairns towers.”

Locations and timing for all further towers were still under consideration, he said.

Canberra Airport’s tower was built in 1976, making it the second oldest – after the 1956 nerve centre in Hobart – at any of the state or territory capitals’ primary airports.

Airservices, which owns and operates 29 civilian towers, has opened new facilities in Rockhampton, Adelaide and Melbourne in the last two years.

The Airservices spokesman said the new tower technology being rolled out across the country, known as the Integrated Tower Automation Suite , combined flight and operational data, surveillance and voice communications into a “single integrated, tower-specific layout”.

“The new system will provide controllers with four customisable touch screens displaying electronic flight strips, operational information, weather, terminal area and surveillance (radar) data,” he said.

A Canberra Airport spokeswoman said the airport would ideally like to see a new tower built within five years, but it was not their decision.

“We have a very collaborative working relationship [with Airservices] on the tower – we’ve done joint studies on the positioning of the new tower – and we understand they have priorities,” she said.

“The technical requirements for international flights, 24/7 operations, and a growing airport meant that upgrading the infrastructure is inevitable, and we’re in ongoing and close dialogue about that.”

 

Source : The Canberra Times

Qantas jobs at Canberra Airport safe for now

August 28, 2014 – 11:48AM

Henry Belot

Canberra Times Reporter

Despite restructuring costs and writedowns, Qantas jobs in the capital are safe for now.

Despite restructuring costs and writedowns, Qantas jobs in the capital are safe for now. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Qantas staff at Canberra Airport are likely to keep their jobs despite the airline posting a full-year loss of $646 million before tax and a statutory loss of $2.8 billion after restructuring charges and writedowns to its fleet.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the figures released on Thursday morning were “confronting” but represented “the year that was past”.

“We have now come through the worst,” he said. “There is a clear and significant easing of both international and domestic capacity growth.”

But with more bad news for the airline, a Qantas spokeswoman said there would be no further job cuts beyond the 5000 that were announced in late February as part of a $2 billion cost reduction strategy.

At the time of the announcement, there were 60 people working in below-the-wing roles and a total of 220 people employed by Qantas at Canberra Airport.

Transport Workers Union spokesman Ben Sweaney, whose union represents workers employed in below-the-wing roles, said he would be surprised if Qantas introduced further redundancies at Canberra Airport given how lean the airport is running.

“It is difficult to see how any savings of significance could be found through further redundancies at Canberra Airport,” he said.

Mr Sweaney said around 15 people had taken voluntary redundancies at Canberra Airport after Qantas management announced they would shed 5000 workers in February.

Australian Services Union ACT secretary Sally McManus, whose union represents workers from call-centres to check-in booths, said Thursday’s financial figures had left workers disappointed and frustrated.

“We fought really hard to minimise job losses at Canberra Airport as it is growing and becoming really essential and there really wasn’t any fat to cut at all,” she said.

“The workers were upset about the announcement of job losses earlier this year but wore the pain to try and turn the company around, which is why the figures posted this morning were so disappointing,” she said.

“It’s now got to the point where the workers have just lost faith in the CEO and the people supporting him,” she said.

Both the TWU and the ASU blamed Alan Joyce and the Qantas Board for the airline’s poor finances and have called for a leadership restructure.

“This most recent announcement is very concerning given Alan Joyce is one of the highest paid airline executives in the world,” said Mr Sweeney.

“It is time for Alan Joyce and the Board to do the decent thing to save Qantas – resign – so that Qantas and the remaining staff have a fighting chance of saving this great airline,” said ASU assistant national secretary Linda White.

Mr Joyce said Qantas was expected to return to an underlying profit before tax in the first half of the financial year, subject to factors outside its control. The airline expects international capacity growth of 2.4 per cent in the first half and domestic growth of 1 per cent.

Mr Sweaney said the TWU would meet with Qantas management in Sydney on Monday to discuss a new workplace agreement for its members.

“We will be putting forward our position to negotiate in good faith to get the best interests for the airline and our members,” he said.

 – with Jamie Freed.

Source : The Sydney Morning Herald

Canberra Airport feeling the pinch from federal cutbacks

April 19, 2014

Ross Peake

ROSS PEAKE IS A SENIOR REPORTER FOR THE CANBERRA TIMES


Manager of Canberra Airport Stephen Byron.

Manager of Canberra Airport Stephen Byron. Photo: Jay Cronan

Canberra Airport is predicting a slide in revenue from federal public servants having their wings clipped.

Managing director Stephen Byron says the looming harsh budget will further affect his business, on top on the pain caused by the efficiency dividend. However, he expects direct international flights will begin from Canberra within two years.

‘The reality is we [will] have a tough time in the near term with the efficiency dividend and ongoing cuts to the federal public service,” Mr Byron said.

”Passenger numbers have been falling at Canberra Airport now for three years.

”Since January 2010, with the efficiency dividend, they have fallen each month for 39 months and they will fall some more over the coming six to nine months with the cutbacks in the federal budget.

”But, on the other hand, I think as the budget position is resolved and, if you like, the federal government gets back to doing business and the public servants are allowed to do business and allowed to travel again, we will see the growth of Canberra. I think over the next five years the airport will truly realise its potential.”

Singapore Airlines is showing the most interest in direct international flights but the airport also hopes to attract Cathay Pacific, Etihad and Emirates.

The business community believes Canberra will be well established as a hub for flights to Asia and possibly the US many years before the proposed airport at Badgerys Creek begins operations.

Adelaide, with a population of 1.2 million, has more than 30 direct international flights a week.

”I have absolute confidence that over the next 12 to 24 months we will achieve international flights,” Mr Byron said.

”I think what will happen is that, once there is the first one, it will show up the extent of the market, the size of the region, the desperation to avoid going through Sydney and transferring terminals, being delayed, missing planes, being stressed, struggling with luggage, being exhausted, coming home and losing half a day of business.

The new terminal at Canberra Airport was recently opened by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who recalled the ”white Meccano terminal that was built in the 1980s”.

”Thank God it’s gone to be replaced by this truly magnificent building,” he said.

”The airport precinct is a vital and dynamic part of the entire ACT economy, adding some 12,000 jobs and contributing $1.3 billion to the local economy.”

At the opening, Capital Airport Group executive chairman Terry Snow said there were restrictions on destinations for international flights out of the ACT.

Mr Abbott said: ”If you can sort out the airlines who want to fly into Canberra from overseas, well I think you can be confident that we will give you the relevant permissions.”

This week, after confirmation Badgerys Creek would be Sydney’s second airport, Mr Byron called for more flights to be allowed into Sydney’s existing airport.

He said the landing limit of 80 aircraft an hour at Sydney airport should be lifted and the curfew made more flexible.

”Canberra has a third of its flights go to Sydney Airport so the effectiveness and efficiency of Sydney Airport is critical, and that’s why we welcome Badgerys Creek and that’s why we want to make the most out of Sydney’s operating capability now.”

Source :The Canberra Times

Canberra Airport eyes flights to Asia

Canberra Airport eyes flights to Asia

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.

Canberra Airport's Stephen Byron in front of the terminal space set aside for international flights

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