Brisbane Airport cross-runway set to reopen

Airport runway is the 'silver bullet'

Brisbane Airport Corporation re-opens its cross-runway for small aircraft Thursday to ease congestion, while predicting a new parallel runway will be built by 2020.

Brisbane Airport Corporation will re-open the cross-runway on Thursday, a move which is expected to improve scheduling by about five per cent.

Passengers have faced heavy delays during the construction of new drains which has forced the closure of the  small runway.

Those involved in construction have expressed frustration that the cross-runway was not able to open earlier.

“The rain has been terrible to us,” an engineer involved with the project told Fairfax Media. “We might have been able to open a month earlier, but constant bad weather has hammered us for the past few months.”

Airport executives admit today's reopening of the cross-runway won't be the scheduling silver bullet many frequent flyers were hoping for.

But it could well ease some of the pain, depending on weather conditions which sometimes do not suit the smaller runway.

"A weekday average is approximately 650 flights per day but we have to be really careful with providing averages as it changes from day to day, week to week and season to season," the representative said.

"The cross-runway will be used tactically - not scheduled - and five to seven per cent average usage of the cross-runway is the forecast goal for optimum weather."

"We will however continue to work with Airservices and the airlines to extract as much capacity out of the Cross-Runway as safely allowable."

Some people have suggested conspiracy theories, believing that the runway closure was orchestrated by BAC management as a pawn in a wider dispute with Qantas.

BAC executives are proposing that a pre-payment business model be used to help fund a new $1.3 billion parallel runway which would almost double flight capacity into and out of Brisbane.

That would mean each passenger flying in and out of Brisbane would be charged an extra 35 cent landing fee, up to an extra $3.15 per international passenger or an extra $1.80 per domestic passenger by 2017, during construction phase.

Qantas argues airlines should not be responsible for BAC's business plans. BAC argues it makes sense to offset costs upfront on a project which would ultimately benefit the bottom line of airlines.

Drains costing about $50 million are being built to service the new parallel runway which is yet to get the financial go ahead.

BAC CEO and managing director Julieanne Alroe said the cross-runway's reopening meant smaller aircraft such as those operated by the Royal Flying Doctor Service would no longer have to fit into a slot landing system alongside larger aircraft.

QantasLink, Virgin Australia ATR, charter flights and other general aviation are also able to use the cross-runway.

Heavier passenger planes would therefore be less likely to face delay.

“In the right conditions, up to five arriving flights an hour can potentially be put on this runway, freeing up capacity on the main runway for larger aircraft,” Ms Alroe said.

Ms Alroe insists all available resources have been put on the project to make up for lost time.

“The project team has worked around the clock to complete this extensive project as soon as possible despite enduring over 450 millimetres of rain in January and February which resulted in around 20 days delay to the construction program since the Australia Day weekend rains,” she said.