Doorstop in Gold Coast, Queensland

10 November 2022

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP INTERVIEW 
GOLD COAST
THURSDAY, 10 NOVEMBER 2022

SUBJECTS: Gold Coast Airport terminal expansion; Queensland tourism bouncing back from COVID; 2032 Olympics; biosecurity at airports

AMELIA EVANS, CEO OF QUEENSLAND AIRPORTS LIMITED: Thank you everyone for coming today to the official opening of the Gold Coast Airport terminal expansion. It has been coming for a long time. We have opened to domestic but today is a big day for all of us here, all of our team, and everyone who’s worked really hard to open this terminal. Senator, would you like to say some words?

MURRAY WATT, MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY: Sure, have you met a politician who doesn’t like to say a few words? [LAUGHTER] Thanks very much, Amelia. It’s really terrific to be here with you and your team for what I know is a really special and important day here on the Gold Coast and actually for our whole Australian tourism industry. My name’s Murray Watt. I’ve got a few different roles; I’m a Labor Senator for Queensland with my office here on the Gold Coast, but I’m also here today as a representative of the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, as his Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Emergency Management.

And as I say, I’m really delighted to join Amelia and her team for this, the opening of this really important terminal. Just a few little details about this terminal. So, what we’re announcing and opening today it’s a three-level terminal expansion which provides contemporary boarding and departure facilities for passengers, enhanced security zones, border control and baggage handling, four glass aerobridges and additional retail space while also really importantly doubling the airport’s passenger capacity. And we’re doing that in partnership with the airport here as a real vote of confidence in the Gold Coast tourism industry heading forward.

The Federal Government has been really pleased and proud to partner with Queensland Airports Limited, the owner of this airport, in the construction of this facility. And we’ve provided an $8.4 million grant for the relocation and upgrade of border services, biosecurity, immigration and customs controls, as well as a range of things. And I just mention that, I guess, as the Minister for Agriculture because we’ve already seen this year with the foot and mouth disease scare that the country went through a couple of months ago, how important it is to have absolutely top-notch biosecurity facilities in place at our airports and mail centres and now the Gold Coast Airport is getting to share in really state of the art biosecurity facilities as well.

But we all know that in the end, the reason this airport is being expanded is for tourism, and we know that the Gold Coast is known internationally as one of the greatest tourism destinations you could ever possibly hope for. And what’s really exciting I think is that I know - and we all know - that the Gold Coast went through a pretty difficult time through COVID. I was actually reflecting this morning - I stayed the night at Rydges just over the road there - and I was reflecting on meetings I was having with the then-CEO, Chris Mills, Adam, Lucy and other members of the management team here about how difficult circumstances were on the Gold Coast and for the Gold Coast Airport, getting to the point where there were barely any flights every day. I remember meeting them at Rydges and there was no one around and today Rydges and this airport are absolutely buzzing. And, in fact, when I booked my hotel room, it was the very last room that was available, which is another great sign of how things have really turned around here on the Gold Coast. Through the September school holidays, we saw this airport had record arrival numbers. So, there’s all sorts of signs that things are really coming back in a big way on the Gold Coast tourism scene and none bigger than being able to open new international terminal facilities right here today.

So I really, again, congratulate Amelia and all of her team. I know the last couple of years have been really difficult for anyone in tourism whether it be here on the Gold Coast or anywhere in the country, but we’ve got record arrival numbers. We’ve got hotels that are reaching full occupancy and now we’ve got a world-class international arrivals facility as well. So really, everything now is ready for the 2032 Olympics to have those international tourists coming back. In this year’s Budget, we announced as a Federal Government a $125 million global tourism advertising campaign because we know we’ve got domestic tourists coming back in a really big way and, of course, what we want to do now, as the world is emerging from COVID, is make sure that we’ve got international tourists coming back as well. 
So a really special day for the Gold Coast. Congratulations to everyone who’s been involved. I’m looking forward to getting out there and spruiking how important it is that people fly to this airport because you’ve got the best facilities you could possibly hope for. Well done everyone.

[APPLAUSE]

JOURNALIST: Amelia, I’ve got a few questions for you. We have already seen flights land today as well, international arrivals. Who have we been seeing come through this morning?

AMELIA EVANS: The first flight this morning was from Scoot Singapore, and they arrived a bit earlier than we anticipated, but it was great to see them touch down and land and if you’re in the departure lounge you get to see how beautiful that is. We then had Japan and New Zealand through this morning as well, so seven flights in total arriving into our airport today.

JOURNALIST: What is – I guess, has been sort of the increase, and particularly now with obviously the terminal is opening now, what sort of increase are we seeing in terms of international flights coming into the Gold Coast?

AMELIA EVANS: So, before COVID we had a couple of more destinations that we don’t have today. We are working with our airlines to reinstate those destinations but at the moment we’re about 70 per cent pre-COVID capacity. So pretty good really overall and domestically as the Senator said, we are well in line with pre-COVID levels.

JOURNALIST: I guess in terms of maybe daily flights or weekly flights compared to what it was a couple of months ago –

AMELIA EVANS: We’re seven today, internationally arriving. We’re around that mark at the moment for every day because we have Japan, the Singapore and the New Zealand services. When we open Bali next year, we’ll have those services come in in March, and we’ll have those extra two or three flights a week as well.

JOURNALIST: How full are these flights that are coming in? Are they packed to the brim? Are they, you know, 70 per cent full?

AMELIA EVANS: We’re around 90 per cent loads at the moment in terms of capacity so, yeah, pretty good considering we’re still in recovery and rebuilding mode.

JOURNALIST: This comes from Destination Gold Coast’s recent report they said that particularly the Asian market, you know, Japan, China, which is a large market in particular for the Gold Coast have been a fair bit down. Are we sort of hoping that those tourists will return?

AMELIA EVANS: I absolutely think so. I think the international borders when they were a bit restricted, particularly Japan, that was a bit of a concern with loads but now it’s all open. Everyone’s coming back and they’re coming back fast so, yeah, it’s great.

JOURNALIST: Some of the new additions like the aerobridges bring up our airport standard across the world. How exciting is that that we have a world-class facility here now?

AMELIA EVANS: Oh, it’s great. The Gold Coast Airport really needed to grow and transform with the region, and we’re seeing a change in demographic in passengers coming through the airport and in the city. So part of our design, and the team have done a really great job of working through that and putting aerobridges in as part of that experience for the passengers.

JOURNALIST: I guess heading towards Christmas, we know it’s going to be an extremely, extremely busy time. I guess how are we expecting the airport to cope with the influx of visitors but also those departing?

AMELIA EVANS: Well, the only thing I can say is the team do an amazing job of managing congestion in the terminal and at the moment with this aerobridge open for international– 

[Biosecurity announcement over the loudspeaker:
This is an important biosecurity message from the Australian Government.
You must declare all meat and animal products. You must declare if you’ve been near farm animals or in a rural area.See a Biosecurity Officer if you are unsure. Please help keep Australia free from foot and mouth disease.]

MURRAY WATT: Did you time that for me?

AMELIA EVANS: Yes, I did!

MURRAY WATT: We’re foot and mouth disease free and we’re going to keep it that way!

[CHEERING]

JOURNALIST: I’ll lead you back to the question. I guess heading towards Christmas, not only domestic but international flights, how are we expecting the airport to cope with that?

AMELIA EVANS: Yeah, so we will have international activated through the Christmas period, which will take some of the congestion away from the domestic terminal. But at the moment the team do a fantastic job of managing all congestion operationally and we’ll just so do what we do best.

JOURNALIST: Just, I guess, in terms of the actual facilities, we know a little while back before the terminal opened there was a fair few people sitting on the floor, which was probably due to crowded areas. Is there going to be any more facilities, seating areas that sort of stuff? Has that been installed?

AMELIA EVANS: So during mass trial, we tried to test the terminals to understand what seating requirements were needed and then we’ve opened for domestic and we’re now reassessing the seating requirements there. With stage 2 opening, which is the international activation, we are going to be putting additional seats in as and when we understand the flow of the passengers and how the numbers shape up in the terminal. So, part of the new way of thinking is, ‘what do we need to do?’ and the team is working on the seating arrangements now.

JOURNALIST: What happens to the other international area now?

AMELIA EVANS: So that’s been decanted. So, it’s all internationals here now. There’s no international border security or anything on that end of the Gold Coast. It’s all in the southern end.

JOURNALIST: Will that be used for anything in that area?

AMELIA EVANS: We’re working on refurbishing that to get a bit more, I guess, cafes and restaurants offerings for our passengers so we can use it for domestic use as well.

JOURNALIST: Great, Murray I just had one for you, if that’s okay?

MURRAY WATT: Sure, no worries.

JOURNALIST: You mentioned 2032 (Olympics) - I think everyone’s looking forward to it. How imperative is a big international terminal being here on the Gold Coast going to help with that?

MURRAY WATT: Well, I think one of the most exciting things about the 2032 Olympics is that while obviously, Brisbane was announced as the host city, the reality is we’re going to be seeing events right around the state, including here on the Gold Coast. So it’s really vital that we have the very best transport infrastructure to service the number of passengers who are going to be coming here. We really want the Olympics to be an Olympics for the whole world to come and see what we have to offer here. Any of us who went to the Commonwealth Games here on the Gold Coast only a couple of years ago will remember the incredible promotion that gave to the Gold Coast right around the world and the tourism benefit that came from it, and we want to see even more given we’re talking about a worldwide event like the Olympics.

JOURNALIST: Just on biosecurity, you sort of mentioned a bit earlier – is that a high priority particularly for airports now with international borders open so that more people are coming through?

MURRAY WATT: Very much so and we’re all having a laugh at the irony of that biosecurity message being played in the middle of this press conference, but I think that’s another sign of one of the benefits, if you like, that came from the recent focus is that I think everyone is much more aware of biosecurity than they used to be. Certainly, there wasn’t a shop I walked into through July and August where people weren’t talking about foot and mouth disease and biosecurity. So, that’s a good thing if people are more aware. And as a Government, what we’re doing is not only investing in these types of facilities to make sure that we can pick things up more easily as they’re coming in through the border, but we’re increasing the number of biosecurity officers. We’re obviously putting foot mats into all of the international airports that have direct flights to and from Indonesia. We’ve banned people from bringing in meat products from any country that has foot and mouth disease if they’re bringing them in for personal consumption. So, we’re certainly stepping up to make sure that we’ve got the very best systems in place and it’s terrific to see airports and others doing the same thing.