08/10/2009 - 00:00

Airport expansion moves ahead

08/10/2009 - 00:00

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FOLLOWING unprecedented growth at Perth Airport during the past seven years, Westralia Airports Corporation's completion of a new financing process worth $882 million will fund long-overdue expansion plans at the domestic and international terminals.

FOLLOWING unprecedented growth at Perth Airport during the past seven years, Westralia Airports Corporation's completion of a new financing process worth $882 million will fund long-overdue expansion plans at the domestic and international terminals.

The owner and operator of Perth Airport will use the new financing, which include new debt facilities worth $740 million and further shareholder funding totalling $142 million to fund its $350 million capital expenditure program over the next three years, and refinance existing bank debt facilities.

Plans include a $75 million expansion of the existing domestic and international terminals, a new $140 million domestic terminal called Terminal WA, potentially catering to low-cost domestic airlines, JetStar and Tiger Airways while focusing on regional WA services, and an on-airport road linking the two terminal precincts.

Perth Airport's chief executive Brad Geatches admitted the criticism of the airport's "long overdue" expansion plans were valid.

But he blamed the unprecedented growth in demand for services at the airport and the drastic underestimations of this growth by the federal and state governments, the resources sector, the airlines and various industry bodies including the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA and the Chamber of Minerals and Energy for the perceived delays in expansion.

“For investment signals we, as airport operators, do very much rely on airlines and industry, and it's alright to apply hindsight, but no-one saw the strength of the growth," Mr Geatches told WA Business News.

“We've grown at an average rate of 12 per cent per annum for the last seven years, whereas normal capital city airports would grow at say 5-6 per cent.

“The demands on the airport have basically doubled in six years and when you're tyring to build large complex fixed infrastructure it's very difficult to respond to that sort of growth.

“I remember when I came here two years ago they (the CME) made predictions as to what they thought the workforce would be in the WA resources and minerals sector in 2015; well, they reached that in 2008."

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