Part 1

Who remembers the glamour era of air travel when travel was fabulous and happened on a 747 or Concorde? People living, visiting and doing business in Perth are reminded everyday as they travel through Perth Airport’s International Terminal, circa 1984.

Undertaking its first substantial redevelopment since 1984, the Airport has now made available artists’ impressions, of the expected interior of the completed international terminal and Virgin Australia’s new domestic pier at the airport. Some analysts have even labelled the redevelopment as providing Western Australia with the ‘best in airport design’.

Original plans promised a “world-class” 3 pier, 40-gate redevelopment that would be “one of the best in Asia” akin to Hong Kong or Seoul’s Incheon. These were subsequently reduced to:

  • a new domestic pier;
  • the construction of Terminal WA for intrastate services;
  • one upgraded and one new international gate;
  • expanded international customs and security facilities;

All built to unexceptional IATA service C standard as extensions to the substandard circa 1984 terminal. Best in Airport design indeed.

Virgin Australia’s domestic pier does look snazzy and it will be the first airport terminal in Australia specially designed for the airline. The terminal will feature definitive Virgin elements passengers including a signature lounge “which will be the best that Western Australia has seen” says John Borghetti.

Virgin Australia’s new domestic pier. Image: Perth Airport

Gate 51 will become Perth Airport’s first Airbus A380 capable gate. Image: Perth Airport

From March 2013, Emirates will fly 3 times daily to Perth. Images of the redeveloped Gate 51 are heavy with Emirates branding. Will this become a dedicated Emirates gate given the location adjacent to the Emirates lounge? Quite possibly. WAC redevelopment priorities see the redevelopment of Gate 51 to an A380 capable stand expediting for completion in 2013 to meet Emirates requirements. Perth will likely become Emirates third Australian A380 destination.

These developments aside passengers travelling internationally will still be required to go from the ground floor up to the level three departure lounge, before walking down stairs to aerobridges on level two. In addition, our measurements on the scale plans put the unaided walking distance between check-in and the furthest international gate beyond both 265m or 300m, industry guidelines for an airport serving 20 mppa or 25 mppa respectively. Figures Perth Airport may surpass by the end of the decade if growth continues at current rates.

CEO Brad Geatches says “our vision is to ensure all customers and visitors…enjoy a superior customer experience”. I doubt that. At an airport with exponential traffic growth, superior service in a facility designed for ‘good service’, does not deliver the ‘best in airport design’.

A further supplement to this article can be found here.

Feature image is an overview of T1 redevelopment. International terminal left, domestic pier centre, terminal WA right. Image: Perth Airport