GOLD COAST AIRPORT TO ATTRACT BIG ASIAN MARKET

GOLD COAST AIRPORT TO ATTRACT BIG ASIAN MARKET

GOLD Coast Airport is planning to capture a greater share of the Asian tourist market by bolstering its offering to international carriers without actually extending its runways.

The airport’s 2011 preliminary draft master plan released today details a proposed increase of available landing space on runway 32 purely by relocating a landing threshold about 310 metres south.

Gold Coast Airport CEO Paul Donovan (pictured) says the move addresses Chinese and other Asian carrier concerns about not having enough runway room.

“They want to know whether we are technically equipped to take their equipment – and that is the runway, ground handling system, baggage handling, catering and fuel. Air Asia and Tiger Airways sent their chief pilots to look at our facilities,” says Donovan.

“We don’t have land to extend the runway but the change in threshold, where the carrier touches down, is giving 310 metres extra to land on runway 32. The runway is still at capacity.”

Other modifications include an additional airport entry road, new taxiway, instrument landing system, railway station and multi-level car park.

Donovan says the city needs to remove its negativity about Asian visitors.

“As a tourist city we need to move past that quickly and create a cultural hub,” he says.

“They (the Chinese) are 20 years behind where we are in terms of travel, where they are still in groups; the agents control their visas and passports. However, some agents I met were exciting young entrepreneurs. We need an airport that is China ready.”

Each year 57 million Chinese tourists travel overseas, from which the Gold Coast currently receives about 116,000.

This year, more than five million passengers will pass through Gold Coast Airport, but this is predicted to jump to 16.3 million within 20 years.

However, plans to upgrade the service with aerobridges, rather than have passengers walk across the tarmac, are not considered an immediate concern.

The plan states: Proposed apron stand positions are set back from the terminal face with sufficient distance to accommodate aerobridges should airlines see feasible need for their installation. However, this is not a requirement foreseen within five years of the preliminary draft Master Plan.

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