GOLD COAST AIRPORT CONGESTION UP AS PASSENGERS HIT 6.3 MILLION

GOLD COAST AIRPORT CONGESTION UP AS PASSENGERS HIT 6.3 MILLION
AFTER cracking six million passengers in calendar 2015, Gold Coast Airport's numbers continued to surge in the first six months of 2016 to break a new record.

But the news is creating an emerging headache for the airport as it ramps up plans for a $300 million expansion of the facility over the next few years.

Queensland Airports Limited (QAL) has revealed 6.3 million international and domestic passengers passed through Gold Coast Airport in FY16, up 7.5 per cent from a year earlier.

The growth was led by an 18 per cent jump in international passengers to more than one million for the first time.

"There is so much activity across the Gold Coast at the moment, and with an average of 400 inbound services per week now the Gold Coast Airport is one of the fastest growing airports in Australia," says QAL chief executive Chris Mills.

"While domestic growth was strong, international numbers grew an impressive 18 per cent on the back of new services to Hong Kong and Wuhan, and additional Auckland flights."

Gold Coast Airport concedes the passenger growth is creating 'significant congestion' as it prepares for a planned expansion of the terminal and apron facilities.

Mills has previously told Business News Australia that the airport is moving to introduce self-service check-ins and bag drops this year to help alleviate the congestion until the new facility is built.

The key focus of the redevelopment, which will double the size of the airport, will be the creation of a new three-level terminal to the south of the existing facility. This is expected to be completed ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

Construction of the second stage, to begin after the Games, will involve the full redevelopment of the existing terminal.

The Gold Coast-based QAL, which also owns Townsville, Mt Isa and Longreach airports, has recorded overall passenger growth of 5.8 per cent across its portfolio to 8.1 million passengers in FY16.

The Gold Coast and Townsville were the only two airports to report gains, with Townsville up 2.1 per cent to 1.58 million passengers.

Townsville, which is undergoing a $42 million terminal redevelopment, has rebounded from a contraction in numbers a year earlier.

Mt Isa and Longreach recorded falls of 10.5 per cent and 2.1 per cent respectively.

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