Adelaide a ‘vibrant market for airlines’

The striking facade of the new $50 million Atura Airport Hotel, rising proudly next to the arrival plaza, is just the first sign that much is changing at Adelaide Airport – and further expansion is set to take off.

Construction company Watpac has commenced a $165 million transformation of the airport terminal, scheduled for completion by 2021, which will double international arrival and departure areas, and increase the airport’s dining and retail precinct by 80%.

This is growth that reflects a stimulated business environment that has taken root in South Australia, and Adelaide Airport managing director Mark Young is confident that this positive energy will keep escalating.

“The airport management has been busy for the past decade promoting SA’s image – as a place to visit, to study, to live, to do business and trade,” says Mark.

“It takes time for that to gain traction, but we’re seeing the results of all that promotional work, and now we need to expand the airport to accommodate it properly.”

Since Adelaide’s current airport terminal opened in 2005, growth has been significant and swift. Adelaide Airport now processes more than eight million passengers a year, a rise of almost 50% in a decade, with one million being international passengers – the consequence of being able to fly non-stop from Adelaide to nine international locations, which connect to more than 300 cities.

However, the increased number of international fights is only partially tied to passenger growth. The lynchpin is increased freight traffic – both for imports, and for exported luxury goods, especially SA’s legion of premium foods.

“Expansion is tied directly to SA business,” says Mark. “It’s the freight volume more than passenger numbers that shows this state as being a vibrant market for airlines, and Adelaide is now directly connected to some of the biggest trade distribution hubs in the world – Dubai, Qatar, Guangzhou – through Adelaide Airport.”

Access to South China is a current focus of increased flight activity, but smaller markets are also expanding. Fiji Air is bringing larger aircraft into Adelaide, and will be scheduling more flights.

An artist’s impression of the transformations at Adelaide Airport.

“Sure, some partnerships are building from a small base, but these form important parts of a bigger picture,” says Mark. “It’s not our aim to cannibalise existing routes and airlines, but to achieve strategic growth through reaching out to new markets.”

This includes talking with airline carriers about a possible direct route to America’s west coast – but Mark concedes that this won’t happen in a hurry.

“It took seven years of negotiation with Emirates before its route and flights to Adelaide were confirmed. It will be a similar long process of continual discussion regarding a route to the US, but I believe it is moving forward,” he says. “It’s a way off, but we believe that the market for such flights is there, and our marketing efforts have commenced.”

Such ambition to pursue vigorous expansion puts existing Adelaide Airport facilities under hard scrutiny. Acknowledging that the current international arrivals hall has inefficiencies at peak times, Mark says the new construction work – ironically located where Adelaide Airport’s 1980s international arrivals shed once stood – will double current capacity, with provision for infrastructure to double again.

International upgrades will include a second, longer baggage belt for arrivals, more space for emigration and immigration processing, expanded security screening, a larger duty free precinct for arrivals and departures, and an expanded dining and retail precinct that will add an estimated 600 retail jobs.

An artist’s impression of the larger duty free precinct at Adelaide Airport.

Other improvements that will soon be taking shape in the airport terminal will include a new premium international lounge and dedicated VIP facilities, along with a relocation of the Virgin Australia Lounge.

The first sign of progress in this big airport transformation was the opening in September 2018 of the seven-story, 165-room Atura Hotel abutting the terminal.

It allows hotel guests to check out and proceed straight to their flight through a direct level-two connection into the airport’s check-in counters. Such an improvement not only accommodates the current needs of travellers, but also serves as a necessary springboard to further growth, and sends a powerful signal to the rest of the nation that Adelaide is a destination on the rise.

“While we still have sufficient capacity to meet future forecasted growth in the number of flights coming to Adelaide, we’re quickly reaching capacity within the existing terminal, and we know there’s potential for more growth,” says Mark.

There are 1.4 million South Australians travelling overseas each year, so about 30% of these people are currently flying out from other Australian cities, and with more flight options we will see that more of these people can be travelling directly from Adelaide.

“The growth in Adelaide Airport is a signal to the state,” Mark says. “It builds confidence in who we are and what we do – and it’s all moving forward.”

Industry in focus: Trade and Investment

Throughout the months of January and February, the state’s trade and investment industry will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is in a prime position for trade and investment opportunities as we have a 24-hour connection to international markets and a prime reputation for our premium products and services.  Read more trade and investment stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Café with a cause at Kangaroo Island Airport

Airline passengers touching down at one of South Australia’s most popular tourist destinations are now able to get their caffeine fix after a disability service organisation established its first social enterprise at the Kangaroo Island airport.

Not-for-profit organisation Mobo Group strengthened its presence in the state’s regions this week when it opened a café at the newly upgraded Kangaroo Island Kingscote Airport, providing employment opportunities for locals living with a disability.

The yet-to-be-named café is currently serving hot beverages and small treats to visitors flying in and out of the the island, giving Mobo employees a chance to build social and vocational skills.

CEO of Mobo Group Andrew Ramsey says he is looking forward to witnessing the many benefits the café will create for employees, patrons and Kangaroo Island’s tourism industry.

Airline passengers order coffee at the newly opened café run by the Mobo Group at the Kangaroo Island Kingscote Airport.

Not only will Mobo employees be provided with employment, they will have the chance to receive barista training, develop their social skills through engaging with customers and will also become tourist ambassadors for the region.

“This new café will enable people living with a disability to be the best that they can be, by giving them the opportunity for sustained employment within the community as well as employment-related support,” he says.

“The café is our first business enterprise on Kangaroo Island and we really look forward to being an even greater part of the community and helping to support the tourism trade and those transiting through the airport.”

Although the airport café is the organisation’s first social enterprise on the island, Mobo Group is long delivered youth services, alcohol and drug programs and run the local Centrelink agency.

The new café complements the recently upgraded Kingscote airport.

“We hope that this will be the first of a number of social enterprises which can be developed on the island, building on the support that we already provide to Kangaroo Island residents living with a disability,” Andrew says.

Kangaroo Island Council CEO Andrew Boardman says the café will be a welcome addition to the airport, which recently underwent a multi-million dollar upgrade.

The State and Federal government funded the works, with the council also developing the project.

“The opportunity to leverage council infrastructure to create opportunities for all in our community is a key thrust in the design of the new facilities, and the council is looking forward to this initiative being the start of great things to come in this area,” Mr Boardman says.

Mobo Group employee Bec Davis restocks the beverages. Bec, along with fellow employees Carmel and Julie, were instrumental in bringing the café to fruition.

Mobo Group supports more than 200 people with disabilities in finding employment and engaging in employment-related support services across metropolitan and regional SA.

The organisation was formed from the merger of two disability enterprises, Hands On SA and Finding Workable Solutions and has a presence in regional areas of Berri, Brinkley, Goolwa, Totness, Mt Barker and Victor Harbor.

Mobo runs a number of business enterprises across the state in document destruction, firewood, food packaging, garden maintenance, mailing campaigns, packaging and processing services, product assembly, print finishing, sewing services and salvage shops.

It is a registered provider of NDIS services, and supports people with disabilities in finding a job, transitioning from school to work, accessing alcohol and drug awareness, and youth services.

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Adelaide Airport set for $125m terminal expansion

Adelaide Airport will undergo a $165m expansion, creating 200 jobs at construction peak and significantly improving the international travelling experience.

The project – the airport’s largest infrastructure upgrade in more than a decade – will involve an overhaul to the main terminal, including an 80% increase in the size of the dining and retail precinct.

Adelaide Airport managing director Mark Young says the expansion will provide a “seamless, connected experience from the time you drive into the airport until you board your aircraft, and vice versa”.

“Since we opened the existing terminal in 2005, our overall passenger numbers have increased by close to 50%,” he says.

“Our international passenger numbers alone have almost tripled over the same period.

“This extraordinary growth means we need to keep growing our existing facilities.

“While we still have sufficient capacity to meet future forecast growth in the number of flights, we’re reaching capacity within the terminal.”

An artist’s impression of the upgraded terminal, featuring a larger retail and food precinct and greater facilities for international travellers.

The upgrades are expected to significantly improve international arrival and departure areas including a second, longer baggage belt, more space for emigration and immigration processing, expanded security screening and a larger duty-free precinct.

The retail precinct will also undergo a complete refurbishment, increasing by 80% in size across domestic and international areas.

Other improvements include a new premium international lounge, Adelaide’s first international arrival and departure VIP facilities, and a relocation of the Virgin Australia lounge.

Work will begin immediately and be completed by 2021.

ASX-listed construction company Watpac – which has an office in Adelaide – is the project builder and will start on site in a fortnight.

Mark says 70% of materials used in the project and 100% of the labour force will be South Australian.

He says 200 jobs will be created during construction peak, with a further 600 retail positions created due to the retail and dining expansion.

The retail and dining area will increase by 80%.

Mark says the expansion could help attract more international airlines to Adelaide.

“We would like to see a direct service to the west coast of the US, but that is some time off as there is often a 5 to 7-year period of marketing,” he says.

Mark says the airport is also focusing on increasing its services into mainland China.

He says airports form an important basis for people’s travels.

“People really feel that an airport is the start of their journey,” Mark says.

“They use that visitor opportunity to experience a little bit of SA.”

The upgrade is set to be complete by 2021.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, David Ridgway, says the expansion is a vote of confidence in the SA economy and will help grow the state’s tourism industry.

“This redevelopment will enhance SA’s ability to attract more international airlines and accommodate an increase in the frequency of air services in the future – all of which will help grow our economy and support more jobs,” he says.

“It’s certainly very encouraging to see private sector investment of this scale in SA and I would like to congratulate Adelaide Airport on this significant investment.”

Adelaide Airport processes more than eight million passengers a year.

Visit I Choose SA for Industry to learn more stories about key industry leaders, why they’ve chosen SA as a base and how the state is enabling them to succeed.