Hobart Airport eyes flights to New Zealand, Asia, as $200m expansion plan unveiled

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Updated April 09, 2019 16:17:38

The Hobart International Airport (HIA) will double its annual passenger numbers within a decade under a new multi-million-dollar expansion plan, but passengers will still have to brave the Tasmanian elements to get from the plane to the terminal.

Key points:

  • Phase one of the revamp will cost $100 million dollars and is expected to be complete by December 2020
  • The 10-year redevelopment does not include plans to introduce aerobridges to link aircraft with the terminal
  • Tasmania’s tourism council says the plan could “put the ‘international’ back into the market”

Phase one of the revamp of Australia’s southern-most airport, which is expected to be completed by December, 2020, will cost $100 million and includes plans to expand the existing departures lounge and facilities, and international processing capacity.

The final two stages will be completed by 2030, will cost a further $100 million and will include increased baggage processing facilities and further retail, food and beverage offerings.

But none of the stages include plans for aerobridges to keep passengers undercover as they embark and disembark.

HIA chief operating officer Matt Cocker confirmed there are no plans to introduce the bridges in the foreseeable future.

“At the moment aerobridges are not within the design, but we are talking with our airline partners around alternative boarding choices,” he said.

“Aerobridges of course are an expensive option and our airline partners and ourselves are in discussions around the best way to develop in the most cost-efficient way.

“We’re both keen to ensure the price of a ticket doesn’t rise too greatly.”

The development comes as Tasmania’s economy continues to boom on the back of a thriving tourism industry, improved business confidence and rapid population growth.

The Hobart Airport has recorded more than 5 per cent year-on-year growth over the past four years, with 2.6 million people making their way through the terminal in the past year.

The project’s proponents now hope to grow that number to 4.5 million by 2030.

The Federal Government pitched in $38 million last year for Hobart’s runway to be extended for international flights.

The Government has followed that up with $82 million for border services at the airport, but it still has not secured any international flights.

‘Investment we’ve been needing’, tourism industry says

The Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania has welcomed the plan, with chief executive Luke Martin saying it could be the game changer needed to meet rapidly growing demand and to open new markets.

Mr Martin said the airport is strapped now and considerable work needs to be done in the next 18 months.

“It’s the kind of investment we’ve been wanting and needing,” he said.

“I think one of the criticisms about the airport over probably two or three decades is that there has been a lot of piecemeal redevelopments, and never really taken that bite towards a bit of medium to long-term vision of an airport that does justice to the destination.”

Mr Martin said international flights were part of the vision.

“We need to be really strategic and sensible about international flights,” he said.

“I’d like to see New Zealand happen, I guess the short-term priority to introduce the market and put the ‘international’ back into the market.”

Mr Cocker said advanced security measures in stage one were aimed at capitalising international market opportunities.

“We are certainly talking with [international] airlines right now, around getting those airlines to come to Tasmania as soon as possible,” he said.

“We’re focusing on a trans-Tasman flight but also an Asian service that will open up not only the Asian market and the New Zealand market, but it would certainly open up opportunities for America and Europe.”

Expansion amid sale speculation

In response to speculation about a potential sale of Macquarie Group’s majority stake, Mr Cocker confirmed one of the owners was “considering their options”.

“For us it’s business as usual, we have a great focus on the development of this service as does our board,” he said.

Not-for-profit superannuation fund TasPlan owns a 49.9 per cent share in the facility.

The Macquarie Group declined to comment.

Topics: industry, air-transport, travel-and-tourism, building-and-construction, business-economics-and-finance, urban-development-and-planning, hobart-7000, launceston-7250

First posted April 09, 2019 13:38:44

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