Perth Airport is in the middle of huge changes, with a major redevelopment programme that will turn it from one of Australia's least-loved airports into what airport CEO Brad Geatches hopes will be "an airport we are proud to call the gateway to Western Australia."
But what's the plan and the schedule for the $700m renovation, so passengers on Qantas, Virgin Australia, Skywest, Alliance, Tiger and the numerous fly-in-fly-out charter airlines will know what to expect?
Australian Business Traveller quizzed CEO Brad Geatches on the full timeline of changes that will affect your business travel -- and when you'll see them. Here's what's happening.
As of 1 November, some of Perth's terminals have been renumbered:
- T1 remains the international terminal, for all international airlines
- A new T2 is being built for domestic flights by Alliance, Skywest and Tiger
- T3 remains the domestic hub for Virgin Australia and some flights from the Qantas family
- The 'new' T4 is the previous T2 terminal for domestic flights by Qantas, QantasLink and Jetstar
Note that flights from the terminal formerly known as T2 aren't moving -- the terminal is just being renumbered.
And these plans predate Virgin Australia's purchase of Skywest and its buy-in to Tiger Airways. With Tiger and Skywest to be separated from their parent airline under these plans, things could well change.
From December, Geatches tips a handy little improvement for us: a new convenience store in international arrivals means you can grab something to eat, drink or read as soon as you get through customs.
February 2013: new domestic terminal for Alliance, Skywest, Tiger
"The new Domestic Terminal, located next to the current International Terminal, will open and become home to Alliance Airlines, Skywest and Tiger Airways," Geatches explains.
This fly-in-fly-out-heavy terminal is "nearly double the size of the existing domestic terminal", Geatches says, and promises:
- A spacious check-in area with 16 check-in counters
- A large central screening zone, double the size of the current area at T3
- Three large baggage reclaim belts that can handle up to 3,000 bags an hour.
And Geatches says that the old domestic terminal will also see improvements: "The customer experience for Qantas and Virgin Australia passengers in the current Domestic Terminals will also significantly improve, with reduced congestion not only within the terminals at check-in, in the departures area and baggage reclaim, but at the front of the terminal in the drop-off and pick-up lanes and access to taxis and parking."
The Connect inter-terminal transfer service will also see marked timetable improvements: every 20 minutes, up from every 50.
Mid-2013: faster immigration
"The first change to the international arrivals journey will be completed when Immigration moves to a new area on Level 1, nearly double the size of the existing area," Geatches says, promising: "This will minimise queuing and reduce waiting times for passengers."
Second half 2013: A380 gate
"The first A380 gate will be completed and our airline partners will be able to introduce regular A380 services into Perth," Geatches says. "Customers will then be able to choose flights where the comfortable wide-bodied aircraft are used."
Geatches was coy on which airlines might be considering flying an A380 into Perth. No prizes for guessing that it might be Qantas' partner Emirates.
Mid-2014: arrivals expansion
Perth Airport is on track to complete its international arrivals expansion, Geatches tells us.
In the pipleine are "the spacious baggage reclaim area, with five large double- loop baggage belts which will minimise congestion around the belts allowing easy collection of bags," and the bonus that "a significantly larger Biosecurity (Quarantine) area with more screening lanes will ensure passengers move efficiently through processing before entering the arrivals halls."
Mid-2014: new domestic pier and international departures
Virgin Australia passengers are the big winner in 2014, with Geatches promising "passengers will be able to transfer seamlessly between regional, interstate and international flights in one convenient location" in the new domestic pier, located between the current international terminal and the opening-in-2013 new domestic terminal.
"Passengers will enter the pier via a 50 metre link serviced by dual travelators," Geatches says, explaining the layout. "As the pier measures 200 metres in length, passengers requiring assistance will have access to buggies operated by airport staff to take them to their departures gate."
On offer will be:
- 14 domestic check-in counters with new check-in technology, including self-service and bag drop
- a spacious new Virgin Australia premium guest lounge
- two large double loop baggage reclaim belts to reduce waiting times
- 16 extra international check-in counters
- new split-level departures area for additional A380 gates
Less positively, there'll also be a new duty free maze to navigate between security and the lounge -- and you won't be able to skip it if you don't fancy slaloming between milling shoppers either.
Overall, Geatches says that "The redesign of the front of the terminal, with a spacious landscaped plaza, completes the experience and provides a pleasant environment for passengers to relax before their flight. It also features dedicated drop-off and pick-up lanes and improved access to taxis and buses."
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