Canberra Airport opens 'extravagant' international terminal ahead of Singapore Airlines flights

 Economy passengers to arrive at Canberra Airport's new international terminal could be forgiven for thinking they were travelling business class.

The new departure lounge, completed five days before the first international flight takes off on Wednesday, features state-of-the-art furniture, a duty-free shop, cafe and bar - all a few minutes' walk from the airport's main entrance.

The Singapore Airlines check-in desk is to the right of the Virgin desk at the domestic terminal. After going through the domestic security checks on the bottom floor, travellers will turn left and take the escalators up towards the Virgin's club lounge, where they will go through customs international security checks.

As they turn the corner they'll see the first set of waiting lounges, designed to be a quieter area. Beyond the next corner sits a duty-free shop that was yet to be stocked on Friday, which leads into the main u-shaped boarding lounge complete with custom-made European-style joinery, stoned floors, and the bar/cafe.

The colour scheme is neutral with pops of blue and red. A combination of built-in and freestanding wooden booths with leather seats overlook the airfield; black and white tables and chairs scatter around the cafe between aluminium poles. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide natural light and a clear view of the runways.

At night time, the room will light up with glow-in-the-dark ceiling panels.

The 500-square-metre business-style departure lounge can hold 450 passengers - about 200 more than the Singapore Airlines Boeing 777.

Airport managing director Stephen Byron said the high-class lounge was of the world's highest-quality, but admitted they slightly blew the initial budget to get there.

"The budget was around $18 million, but it is pretty hard to budget within the period we had, we just had to get it done," he said.

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"We had an array of local companies who have done a spectacular job in not only the speed and the quality."

It took 16 weeks to turn the empty concrete space into the finished product, which marks the first time the Australian Border Force has built a fully integrated facility.

"You will nowhere in the world see as good a paint finish as was done in that white ceiling," Mr Byron said.

"But we had these ceilings coming along every day in the last week and were finished just yesterday."

Canberra Airport owner Terry Snow said the new lounge exceeded his expectations.

"It is beautifully laid out; there is an extravagant use of stone, leather and soft carpet," he said.

"Normally these departure lounges are run by the airlines, but because Singapore Airlines are only in here four days a week, they could not have made the proper investment. So we challenged ourselves to make the premium, high-quality, beautiful lounge for the Canberra and surrounding region and we did that."

He said it would be used by people from the south coast right down to the Victorian border.

The first Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 is due to land at 8.50am on Wednesday, September 21, making only a 75-minute stop before heading to Wellington. The airline is scheduling four round trips a week.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said Friday was a historic day for Canberrans.

He was continuing discussions with Chinese carriers to achieve his medium-term goal of daily services to and from Asia, as well as New Zealand counterparts about a Canberra-Auckland connection, which would continue on to north and South America.

"But the next few years is about ensuring this Singapore Airlines [venture] is successful," he said.

"We want to ensure that the four flights a week are a success, and then grow that to five, six and then a daily service."

This article Canberra Airport opens 'extravagant' international terminal ahead of Singapore Airlines flights was originally published in Canberra Times.

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