From multimillion-dollar airport upgrades to long-awaited airline cabin revamps, Australian travellers will see a host of changes made to the way they fly this year.
Works on Australia’s major airports, including Gold Coast and Melbourne, will begin this year. Upgrades will offer additional terminals, improved technology and more transport options.
There will also be improvements to one of Qantas’s key aircraft, which is set to get its first revamp in a decade.
The New Daily looks at what travellers can expect in 2019.
Major airport revamps
Gold Coast Airport will get a $300 million terminal expansion. The airport is already undergoing significant upgrades, which will include a new three-level terminal adjacent to the southern end of the airport.
New tech will also be installed, including advanced facial-recognition systems.
A $50 million Rydges hotel will open near the airport’s major terminal later this year, providing accommodation for passengers who have delayed or cancelled flights.
Daniel Sciberras, frequent flyer expert and spokesman at Point Hacks, said the upgrades at Gold Coast Airport would go a long way to alleviate congestion.
“There’s been several times when I’ve landed at the airport and the plane will just have to sit at the gate for more than 15 minutes,” Mr Sciberras told The New Daily.
“There will be more gates for passengers, meaning less backlog and it’s going to be a much more pleasant experience for passengers.”
It’s a similar case in Victoria. A Melbourne Airport spokeswoman told The New Daily there were several developments taking shape this year.
“The completion of the T2 security expansion, full renovation and tenancy remix of the airport’s existing T2 and T3 retail and hospitality offering … continuation of the international self-service check-in upgrade,” the spokeswoman told The New Daily.
“Works will also commence on the expansion of the international arrivals hall, development of an elevated loop road network and construction of the airport’s dual-branded on-airport hotel.”
At this stage, The New Daily understands Sydney Airport will also be revamping its arrivals terminal and replacing its departures wall with a new digitised one.
A decade after the Qantas Airbus A380 took to the skies, its 12-strong superjumbo fleet is receiving a makeover.
The fleet will undergo a major cabin upgrade to improve comfort on long-haul flights to the US, Europe and Asia, with works to be completed by 2020.
Structural changes will see the upper deck remove 30 economy seats and add six business class and 25 premium economy seats.
Other upgrades include replacing the original business-class sky beds with those found on the 787 Dreamliner, and having a one-two-one seating configuration.
First-class suites will also experience a subtle upgrade that includes contoured cushioning and larger high-definition entertainment screens.
Three major US airlines, including American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, will also be launching premium economy cabins across selected flights into Australia.
‘More improvements still needed’
Airline Intelligence Research managing director and former Qantas chief economist Dr Tony Webber said he welcomed the changes at selected airports, but felt more still needed to be done “logistically”.
“The curfew at Sydney Airport needs to be improved as the slot only allows 80 movements per hour – it’s the tightest compared to other caps across the world,” Dr Webber told The New Daily.
He hoped the work at Gold Coast Airport would improve the way passengers embarked and disembarked from aircraft.
“There needs to be more sophisticated ways for passengers to get onboard – the old days of walking on the tarmac should be gone,” he said.
“One of the biggest issues facing Melbourne Airport is that there’s no train, and queues for the SkyBus are just ridiculous.”
Dr Webber said Perth was in desperate need of an additional airport.
“Perth is a long way from other major airports and if aircraft need to turn around or land elsewhere, then they have to do so at Adelaide or another airport,” he said.
“I think Adelaide is an excellent airport, but it’s very hard for them to make money as the demand for international and domestic travel isn’t as great as it is in other states.”