Canberra Airport (IATA: CBR, ICAO: YSCB), is an international airport situated in the District of Majura, Australian Capital Territory serving Australia's capital city, Canberra, as well as the nearby city of Queanbeyan and regional areas of the Australian Capital Territory, and southeastern New South Wales.
Canberra Airport (IATA: CBR, ICAO: YSCB), is an international airport situated in the District of Majura, Australian Capital Territory serving Australia's capital city, Canberra, as well as the nearby city of Queanbeyan and regional areas of the Australian Capital Territory, and southeastern New South Wales. Located approximately 8 km (5.0 mi) from the city centre, within the North Canberra district, it is the eighth-busiest airport in Australia.
The airport serves direct flights to all Australian state capitals, as well as to many regional centres across the Australian east coast.Direct international links previously operated from Canberra to Singapore and Wellington. Flights to Qatar also operate via Sydney.
Canberra Airport handled 3,217,391 passengers in the 2018–19 financial year. Major redevelopment work completed in 2013 included the demolition of the old terminal, replacing it with a new facility designed to handle up to 8 million passengers annually.In addition to serving airline traffic, the airport is also the only public general aviation facility within the Australian Capital Territory. A former Royal Australian Air Force base – Defence Establishment Fairbairn is located within Canberra Airport and supports government VIP flying operations by 34 Squadron as well as ground handling for itinerant military aircraft and visiting heads of state.
The airport was built up from an old airstrip that was first laid down in the 1920s, not long after the National Capital site was decided. In 1939 it was taken over by the RAAF, with an area leased out for civil aviation.
On 13 August 1940, in what became known as the Canberra air disaster, a RAAF Lockheed Hudson flying from Melbourne crashed into a small hill to the east of the airport. Four crew and six passengers, including the Chief of the General staff and three Federal Government ministers, were killed in the accident. James Fairbairn, Minister for Air and Civil Aviation, was one of those killed and Fairbairn Airbase, the eastern component of the airport, was subsequently named after him. In 1962 the military side of the airport was renamed RAAF Base Fairbairn. The North-East quadrant of the airport still retains the Fairbairn name.
The terminal facilities on the western side were upgraded in 1988 and by 1994, Canberra Airport was the seventh busiest in Australia, handling 1.4 million passengers annually. Prior to privatisation, the ACT Government recommended further development of the airport as an international gateway, capable of limited widebody operations to destinations in South-East Asia and the Pacific region, but noted there was little appetite from Australian airlines to establish such services The lease to the site was sold to Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd in 1998, and the RAAF area was sub-leased back to the Department of Defence. It was decommissioned as a RAAF base in 2003, (although No. 34 Squadron RAAF remains based there), and the RAAF area was renamed Defence Establishment Fairbairn.
In July 2004, Air Pacific launched twice weekly services between Canberra and Nadi, the first direct scheduled International link, however these flights proved unsuccessful, prompting further investment in facilities to support International operations. In 2006 the main runway was upgraded to cater for heavier aircraft, allowing visiting dignitaries and heads-of-state to fly direct to the capital.The airport's 2005 masterplan was criticised by the Federal government for not providing enough detail about planned expansion, while a further draft master plan was rejected by Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese in November 2008. The draft did not provide enough detail on a proposal to develop the airport into a freight hub, while that the airport's community consultation had also been insufficient. In the second half of 2008, Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd started referring to itself as "Canberra Airport".
Redevelopment and International flights
In early December 2007, plans were announced to construct a new terminal, to be completed by September 2010. This new terminal would have increased the number of aerobridges from two to six, doubled the number of check in counters and car parking and provided additional baggage processing capacity and lounge space. These plans were placed on hold in late 2008 as a result of the global economic crisis.With financial outlooks improving, in April 2009, the airport announced $350 million would be spent towards a new terminal and key infrastructure projects, including:
three new jet aircraft parking positions and a total of ten aerobridges
an increase in check-in counters from 17 to 44
two multi-story car parks connected to the terminal
a split-level roadside drop off and pick up system
dedicated customs, immigration and quarantine facilities to support International flights
an indoor taxi rank and waiting area – a first for an Australian airportThe terminal's Southern concourse was completed in late 2010, while the Western concourse was partially open in March 2013 and complete by November of that year. Overall, floor space was increased by 65%, with significantly expanded baggage capacity and also expanded the airline lounges by four times compared to the previous building.
In November 2012, a national petition was started by 10-year-old Eve Cogan to name the new extensions after David Warren, inventor of the blackbox. The petition has been supported by Captain C.B. "Sully" Sullenberger.In 2010, 8 Brindabella Circuit, a building located in the administration area of the Airport precinct, won the 5 Green Stars Australian Excellence Award.
In January 2016, Singapore Airlines announced it would launch flights from Singapore to Wellington via Canberra with Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, dubbed the "Capital Express" service. The ACT Government and Canberra Airport had been attempting for years to attract foreign airlines, or persuade Qantas or Virgin Australia to commence international flights from Canberra, with a population catchment of 900,000. The airport is underserviced compared to Adelaide which has 42 weekly international services with a population catchment only 25% larger. Canberra's status as Australia's capital city and the above average income of residents in the surrounding area provide arguments in favour of more international services at the airport. Qatar Airways began daily flights between Canberra and Doha, via Sydney in February 2018. The product offering was upgraded in November 2019, replacing the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft used on the route with new A350-1000s On 24 January 2018, Singapore Airlines announced that it was ending its Canberra to Wellington service on 30 April 2018, altering its Canberra operations to a daily Singapore-Sydney-Canberra-Singapore service from 1 May 2018 using the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.
Interstate travel restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically impacted operations at Canberra Airport. By August 2020, the airport reported a 99% reduction in passengers and closed the terminal on Saturdays as a cost saving measure, while management criticised State governments for enforcing border closures with the ACT, despite there being no active community transmission of the virus in the Territory. In September, Singapore Airlines announced the permanent suspension of its Canberra operations. Easing of travel restrictions in late September saw resumption and increased frequency on some interstate routes, avoiding further reduction to five days per week operations. This increased demand was followed announcement of several new leisure focussed, regional routes.Canberra Airport received three one-off repatriation flights to bring home Australians stranded overseas, including a Qantas flight from New Delhi, Nepal Airlines flight piloted by film star Vijaya Lama and a Singapore Airlines flight with 150 passengers.On 17 July 2020, Qantas carried passengers on a scenic flight aboard its final Boeing 747 from Canberra Airport over the capital and surrounding region. The special flight, touted as a public farewell for the 747 long-haul fleet, had originally been planned over Melbourne, but was changed to Canberra due to Victorian lockdowns and also performed low fly-pasts of the airport and the city landmarks.
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