Canberra Airport

Canberra Airport
Airport type Public
Operator Capital Airport Group Pty Ltd[1]
Serves Canberra
Elevation AMSL 1,886 ft / 575 m
Coordinates 35°18′25″S 149°11′42″E / 35.30694°S 149.19500°E / -35.30694; 149.19500Coordinates: 35°18′25″S 149°11′42″E / 35.30694°S 149.19500°E / -35.30694; 149.19500

Location in the Australian Capital Territory

Direction Length Surface
m ft
17/35 3,283 10,771 Asphalt
12/30 1,679 5,509 Asphalt
Statistics (2011)
Passengers 3,206,103
Aircraftmovements 43,316
Sources: Australian AIP and aerodrome chart[2]
passenger and aircraftmovements from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE)[3]

Canberra Airport (IATA: CBR, ICAO: YSCB), is the airport serving Australia's capital city, Canberra, the nearby city of Queanbeyan, NSW and the surrounding regional area of South-Eastern New South Wales. Located at the eastern edge of North Canberra,[4] it is the eighth busiest airport in Australia.

Canberra Airport is managed and operated by the Canberra Airport Group Pty Ltd. The airport serves flights to the state capital cities of Australia, to Newcastle, Gold Coast, Wellington (New Zealand) and Singapore. Canberra Airport handled 3,240,848 passengers in financial year 2011.[5][6] In 2009 Canberra Airport underwent a major redevelopment in which the old terminal was demolished and in its place a new concourse was constructed which fully opened in 2013.[7]


The airport is located at the intersection of Canberra's main east-west artery (Parkes Way/Pialligo Avenue) and eastern ring road (Monaro Highway/Majura Parkway) near the semi-rural suburb of Pialligo about an 8 minutes drive from the city centre, 15 minutes from Gungahlin and 10 minutes from Queanbeyan at non-peak times; travel times can sometimes be much longer at peak times due to traffic congestion.

The land is currently divided into four areas:


Early years

The hangars and air traffic control tower of Defence Establishment Fairbairn, viewed from the main runway.

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 lease to the site was sold to Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd[10] 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.

Before the airport redevelopment in 2009 there was one building made up two terminals. The former Qantas Terminal at Canberra Airport was located on the western side of the building. All Qantas and QantasLink flights and related services such as lounges now operate from the new Southern Concourse Terminal. The former terminal was demolished in 2011 to make way for the building of the second Western Concourse Terminal.[7]

The former Common User Terminal was located on the far eastern side of the building. The terminal served Virgin Australia and briefily Tiger Airways. Also until 2001 the terminal was the home of Ansett Australia's operations from the airport.[11] However, after the construction of the new Southern Concourse, only the terminal's departure lounge and gates 5 and 6 were in use. The Common User terminal was demolished in June 2013 after the opening of new Southern Concourse.[12]


In 2008, Canberra International Airport launched an advertising campaign advocating the idea of having Canberra considered as Sydney's Second Airport. The slogan used was "Is the solution to Sydney's second airport still 20 years away? Less than 3 hours actually". This point of view was presented at "Canberra is the Only Serious Solution to Sydney's Air Traffic Problems."[13]

The now demolished old Canberra Airport terminal.

The Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese rejected Canberra International Airport's draft master plan in November 2008, on the grounds that it did not provide enough detail on the proposal to develop the airport into a freight hub; and that the airport's community consultation had been insufficient.[14] The Airport's 2005 master plan was also criticised by the then-Howard Government for not providing enough information.[15]

Tiger Airways Australia jet at Canberra in 2008

In the second half of 2008, Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd started referring to itself as "Canberra Airport".[16]

In early December 2007, plans were announced to construct a new terminal, with works commencing in July 2008, and completion set for September 2010.[17] When completed, the terminal would have six aerobridges (an increase of two), 32 check-in counters, (twice the current number), 2,500 car parking spaces (doubled), three times the baggage belt capacity, and the floor area of the lounge facilities would be quadrupled.[18][19]

These plans were placed on hold in late 2008 as a result of the Global economic crisis.[15]

In April 2009, Canberra Airport announced that it would spend $350 million on a number of infrastructure projects:[20]

Changes to the terminal included:[20]

It placed a 4.5-minute animated video of the planned finished product on its website.[21]

The project was given the go ahead by Canberra International Airport executive chairman Terry Snow, to start late 2009. It was approved by the Australian Government in February 2008. The new terminal increased space by 65%. Completed as part of the redevelopment were 10 airbridges; two four-level car parks; and a still under construction under-cover taxi rank.[22] Space will be made for the future requirements of international flights.[23]

In 2010, 8 Brindabella Circuit, a building located in the administration area of the Airport precinct, won the 5 Green Stars Australian Excellence Award.[24]

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.[25][26] The petition has been supported by Captain C.B. "Sully" Sullenberger.[27]


High-speed rail link proposal

View of Canberra Airport from Mount Ainslie in June 2014

On 10 February 2009, Canberra Airport released its preliminary draft master plan which announced that a high-speed rail link between Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne was being considered. The plan was shortlisted in December 2008 by Infrastructure Australia for further consideration, however it was the most expensive project shortlisted, and has not attracted any funding from any government. The decision to build the Second Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek has made a fast rail link to Canberra Airport unlikely in the foreseeable future.[28]

International Flights

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 at Canberra Airport in September 2016

In January 2016, Singapore Airlines announced four weekly flights from Singapore to Wellington via Canberra with a Boeing 777-200 aircraft. Dubbed "Capital Express" it is the first regular international service to Canberra in years and began on 21 September 2016.[29]

The ACT Government and Canberra Airport had been attempting for years to attract international airlines such as Air Asia X,[30] Air New Zealand, and Emirates or persuade Qantas or Virgin Australia to commence international flights from Canberra.[31][32] The airport argues there is a strong business case for flights to New Zealand. Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron said he believed there was a case to support about three flights a week to the capital of Wellington and another three to Auckland.[33] In addition, the airport believes in the viability of a direct daily flight to an Asian Hub airport (such as Singapore or Hong Kong) to accommodate one-stop flights to onward destinations in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.[34] Canberra has a population of 900,000 in its catchment area (approximately 75% of that of Adelaide which has 42 weekly international services from its airport). Its status as Australia's capital city and the above average income of residents in the surrounding area provide more arguments in favour of international services at the airport.[34]

Following, the commencement of Singapore Airlines's flights, Qatar Airways announced plans to fly into Canberra in either 2017 or 2018.[35]

Future Traffic Trends

The projected traffic trends for the airport are on the decline,[36] as Federal Government cuts take effect in an effort to reduce costs, and with more employment opportunities in Melbourne and Sydney the ACT is experiencing the largest fall in full-time positions in 2014 than any other state or territory.[37] Qantas is also downsizing operations at the airport.[38] However managing director of the airport Stephen Byron believes that the airport can grow with the increase in tourism for Canberra and the surrounding area, the establishment of nearby commercial and retail precincts and the potential for the airport to become a freight hub.[39]


Atrium interior looking out on to the tarmac
Part of the Southern Concourse

The building's two wings, the Southern Concourse and the Western Concourse are separated by an Atrium, the centrepiece of the terminal.[40]

Southern Concourse

Construction of the Southern Concourse was completed in late 2010 and came into service on 14 November.[41] Qantas uses its check-in counters and departure gates.[7] The Southern Concourse also includes The Qantas Club, The Qantas Business Class Lounge and The Qantas chairman's Lounge.

Western Concourse

The Western Concourse opened in March 2013 and conjoins onto the Southern Concourse Terminal. Virgin Australia uses its check-in counters and departure gates.[42] The Western Concourse also includes the 300 seat Virgin Lounge and Virgin's invitation-only The Club.[43]

The western concourse was built with space for customs, immigration and quarantine facilities next to the Virgin lounge on the upper floor and on the ground floor. These areas were fitted out and opened when Singapore Airlines began its Canberra services to Wellington and Singapore.[44] International flights arrive and depart from gate 5.

General Aviation Terminal

The General Aviation Terminal in Canberra Airport is a small separate building located on the far west side of the Terminal Precinct.[45][46]

Brindabella Business Park

Over a dozen office buildings have also been built on airport land at Brindabella Business Park[8] and Fairbairn.[47] A retail precinct called Majura Park has been established on airport land along Majura Road.[9]

The Canberra Spatial Plan released by the ACT Government in March 2004 identified the airport and surrounding areas as being an important centre for future industrial and related development.[48]

Brindabella Airlines had its head office on the airport property until its collapse in 2013.[49][50]

Airlines and destinations

FlyPelican Dubbo (begins 30 January 2017),[51] Newcastle[52]
Qantas Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney
operated by Cobham
Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney
operated by Eastern Australia Airlines
Melbourne, Sydney
operated by Sunstate Airlines
Singapore Airlines Singapore, Wellington[29]
Tigerair Australia Melbourne (resumes 9 December 2016)[53]
Virgin Australia Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney


Total passengers and aircraft movements

Year Actual
1997–98 1,824,515 38,446
1998–99 1,820,757 38,077
1999–00 1,969,221 41,025
2000–01 2,107,219 51,867
2001–02 1,841,302 39,716 90,281
2002–03 1,916,351 2,176,603 35,986 93,296
2003–04 2,303,422 39,418
2004–05 2,478,705 2,280,557 38,512
2005–06 2,550,129 38,182
2006–07 2,687,336 38,257
2007–08 2,853,480 41,177
2008–09 3,061,859 2,829,882 45,191
2009–10 3,258,396 44,201
2010–11 3,240,848 43,280
2014–15 3,476,797 116,072
2019–20 4,270,094
2024–25 5,212,007 146,159

Busiest domestic routes

Busiest domestic routes into and out of Canberra Airport (Year End 2013)[5]
Rank Airport Passengers handled % Change
1 Sydney New South Wales1,027,600Decrease2.4
2 Melbourne Victoria994,500Decrease0.9
3 Brisbane Queensland583,000Decrease3.7
4 Adelaide South Australia182,200Increase4.1


Approach and departure corridors lie over largely rural and industrial areas, although the instrument approach path (from the south) passes near the New South Wales suburb of Jerrabomberra, the city of Queanbeyan, and the Royal Australian Navy base, HMAS Harman, which has some barracks and housing.

Proposals have been made to the NSW Planning Minister by various developers to approve housing estates that are under the southern flight paths in New South Wales. Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd[10] has been vigorous in advertising its opposition to these plans on the basis of a general increase in noise levels over a wide corridor which is currently free of aircraft noise,[55] and concern that this will lead to the imposition of a curfew on the hours-of-operation of the airport.[56]


Access to and from the Canberra airport terminal is primarily by car, hire car or taxi. Canberra Cabs and partner taxi companies provide services to the airport taxi rank, with cabs waiting when flights come in.

Bus services

Royale Coach operates Airport Express, which provides daytime mini-bus services to Canberra City.[57]

Coach services operate from Canberra Airport to the Snowy Mountains.[58]

No other bus services enter the airport terminal itself, however there are services to the nearby Brindabella Business Park which is approximately a five-minute walk to the terminal.

Road traffic and road traffic congestion

The road system around Canberra Airport and the road between Civic and Canberra Airport was being duplicated as at July 2008, partly funded by Canberra Airport and the ACT Government. Federal Labor had also committed to further road improvements in the area through the extension of the Monaro Highway.[61][62]

The Chief Minister of the ACT Government, Jon Stanhope, initially blamed the Commonwealth for the increased traffic congestion around the airport, which he claimed had occurred due to the construction of office buildings on airport land,[63] however, Mr Stanhope later stated that while he accepted the development of the airport added to the level of traffic on the roads, it was not the cause of the congestion during peak periods.[64] The ACT Government established a roundtable working group to examine the roads around the Airport and identify solutions to the road congestion through the Majura Valley.[65] The roundtable identified that the cause of the road traffic was increased traffic from Gungahlin;, the expansion of the airport; and Queanbeyan's growing population.[66][67] The working group recommended a staged approach to solving the traffic congestion, with Stage 1 including the duplication of Pialligo Avenue, Morshead Drive and Fairbairn Avenue.[68]

See also


  1. "Board of Directors". Canberra Airport. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011.
  2. YSCB – Canberra (PDF). AIP En Route Supplement from Airservices Australia, effective 10 November 2016, Aeronautical Chart
  3. "Airport traffic data". Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE).
  4. "Canberra Airport (CBR) Information: Airport in Canberra Area, ACT, Australia, AU". 16 May 2011. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Airport Traffic Data
  6. 1 July to 30 June
  7. 1 2 3 "Canberra's new terminal". Canberra Airport. Archived from the original on 18 May 2011. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  8. 1 2 Brindabella Business Park,
  9. 1 2 Majura Park (retail precinct),
  10. 1 2 "Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd". Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  11. "Terminal map and directory". Canberra Airport. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  12. "Airport reborn as old arch foe meets its end". Canberra Times. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  13. "Canberra is the Only Serious Solution to Sydney's Air Traffic Problems." Archived 29 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. "Airport plan lacked detail: Albanese". ABC News. 22 November 2008. Retrieved 22 November 2008.
  15. 1 2 McLennan, David (22 November 2008). "Feds bring airport's 24/7 ambitions back down to earth". The Canberra Times. Archived from the original on 27 October 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2008.
  16. For example, the Issue 45 of "The Hub", dated July 2008, uses the "Canberra International Airport" logo, whereas Issue 46, dated November 2008, uses a "Canberra Airport" logo.
  17. "Canberra's new terminal". Canberra Airport. Archived from the original on 1 May 2011. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  18. The Hub Newsletter, Issue 43, January 2008.
  19. Information and updates about changes to the airport,
  20. 1 2 "Project key facts", AirVolution project, Canberra Airport Website. Retrieved on 11 April 2009. Archived 13 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  21. Animated video, planned airport changes, Canberra Airport website. Retrieved on 11 April 2009.
  22. "Still to come - Canberra Airport". Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  23. "The Air Volution", Information about Canberra's (planned) new air terminal, Canberra Airport website. Retrieved on 11 April 2009. Archived 28 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  24. "5 Green Star 'Australian Excellence' Award". Canberra Airport. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  25. Emily Watkins (22 November 2012). "Girl, 10, campaigns to honour black box inventor". News Ltd. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  26. Ben Sandilands (5 January 2013). "The link between unsung hero David Warren and QF32". Crikey.
  27. Staff writers (23 January 2013). "Heroic pilot backs little Aussie girl's campaign". News Ltd. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  28. Australian Government, Western Sydney airport, Infrastructure Australia, 4 December 2014, accessed 23 December 2014.
  29. 1 2 Flynn, David (20 January 2016). "Singapore Airlines to launch Singapore-Canberra-Wellington flights". Australian Business Traveller. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  30. Ironside, Robyn. "AirAsia X eyeing off Avalon, Brisbane and Canberra". Perth Now. Retrieved 2015-05-09.
  31. McIlroy, Tom (6 March 2015). "Air New Zealand Canberra flights not happening, despite Barr plea". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  32. "Canberra woos Singapore Airlines". Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  33. "Push for overseas flights into Canberra". Canberra Times. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  34. 1 2 "IKEA helps build case for international flights for Canberra Airport". Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  36. "Canberra Airport the only Australian airport to record reduction in pax traffic for FY2010/11". Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  37. "Federal government public service job cuts 'hurting ACT'". Canberra Times. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  38. "Qantas job losses at Canberra Airport". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  39. "Traffic at Canberra Airport down for the fourth year in a row". Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  40. "New Terminal - Canberra Airport". Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  41. "Canberra's new terminal". Archived from the original on 28 February 2009.
  42. "Airport opens new gateway to Canberra". ABC News. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  43. "Virgin Australia opens new Canberra Airport lounge". Australian Business Traveller. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  44. "Canberra Airport opens new Virgin Australia terminal, lounges this week". Australian Business Traveller. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  45. "Microsoft Word - FINAL Canberra Airport 2009 Master Plan, Approved 28.09.09.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  46. "Awards - Canberra Airport". Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  47. "Fairbairn". Canberra Airport.
  48. Canberra Spatial Plan, March 2004, ACT Government.
  49. "Brindabella Airlines". 10 January 2000. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  50. "Home." Brindabella Airlines. Retrieved on 19 November 2013. "Brindabella Airlines Pty Ltd, 5 Rayner Road Canberra Airport PO Box 1542"
  51. "Flights between Dubbo and Canberra will start from January 30 next year". Daily Liberal. 2 December 2016.
  52. "Pelican gets green light to start Newcastle-Canberra route". Australian Aviation. 27 May 2015.
  54. 1 2 2005 Canberra Airport Master Plan pp.24–25
  55. This is referred to as "Noise Sharing". See "Aircraft Noise – Land Use Planning document". Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd. Retrieved 28 October 2007. and Noise Sharing, Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd for an explanation of their rationale.
  56. "Judge's Ruling says noise will be a problem at Tralee", The Hub, Issue 40 (September 2007), pg4. Canberra Airport Newsletter.
  57. "Canberra Airport Express". Royale Limousines. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  58. "Ski buses". Canberra Airport. Retrieved 6 July 2013.
  59. "ACTION Routes by Suburb". ACT Government. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  60. "Route 834". Qcity Transit. Retrieved 6 July 2013.
  61. "Labor party media release". 12 October 2008. Archived from the original on 30 March 2008. Retrieved 18 June 2008.
  62. "The Hub". Issue 45. Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd. July 2008. Retrieved 18 June 2008.
  63. "Stanhope blames Commonwealth for airport congestion". ABC News. 7 March 2007. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  64. "Letter from Mr Jon Stanhope to Mr Stephen Byron, 15 January 2007, contained in submission to the National Capital Authority Inquiry" (PDF). 15 January 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 March 2011. Retrieved 18 June 2008.
  65. "Airport Roads Roundtable". Jon Stanhope Media Release. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
  66. "Canberra Airport Roads Working Group – Interim Report". ACT Government. 1 June 2006.
  67. "Media Release: $15 million to Boost Road Access to Airport" (PDF). ACT Government. 1 October 2006. Retrieved 5 June 2007.
  68. "Canberra Airport Roads Working Group – Final Report". ACT Government. 1 October 2006. Retrieved 19 August 2007.

External links

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