When Will Brisbane Airport’s New Runway Open?


Brisbane Airport’s second runway is set to open in mid-2020 as the eight-year construction project enters its final phase. It has been a long time coming but it will allow the airport to double its aircraft movements. The opening of the second runway comes at a critical time for the busy airport that has big growth aspirations.

An Emirates 777 coming into land at Brisbane. Photo: John via Flickr.

According to a report in Flight Global, Brisbane Airport handled 23.8 million passengers in the year ending June 30, 201. These numbers are set to grow 4-6% annually over the short to medium term.

It will have taken 8 years to build but will have big benefits

The second runway will be 3,300 meters long, 60 meters wide and have 12 kilometers of associated taxiways. A spokesperson for Brisbane Airport says;

“The exact date of the opening is still not set, but the project remains on track for mid-2020. Once the runway is open, all applicable flights, north or west landing and departures,  will commence from day one.”

Regular travelers through Brisbane will have seen the massive project unfold over the last seven years. You can’t miss it on the right-hand side of the airport as you come in from Moreton Bay. The asphalt has just been laid on top of the runway’s 2.5-meter layer of compacted sand and 0.6-meter layer of crushed rock. Over the next six months, the finishing touches will be put to the USD$880 million project.

Brisbane’s new runway under construction. Photo: Brisbane Airport.

Benefits for many parties

As far as Brisbane Airport is concerned, the benefits will not only be felt at the airport but also around wider South East Queensland. The airport estimates that by 2035, the new runway will have generated 7,800 jobs and pumped USD$3.4 billion into the local economy. The extra capacity the second runway will bring to Brisbane will mean more flights to more destinations for residents.


For the airport, the second runway will comfortably handle projected growth in both passenger and aircraft numbers for decades to come. The privately-owned airport has an array of institutional owners including Royal Schiphol Group, QIC Infrastructure Management, IFM investors and various superannuation funds. All will be banking on the new runway to help keep delivering the handsome profits they currently enjoy from Brisbane Airport.

The new runway towards the final stages of construction. Photo: Brisbane Airport.

Brisbane Airport says the new runway will see the Queensland capital have the most efficient runway system in Australia. It will help solidify Brisbane’s role as a key gateway to and from Australia.

A fast-growing airport

The airport is currently Australia’s third-largest when measured by passenger numbers. There are some 460 daily domestic aircraft movements and 110 daily international aircraft movements. Thirty-four airlines use the airport. Recent arrivals include Samoa Airways and Thai AirAsiaX. 


Passengers can reach 34 international and 51 domestic destinations directly from Brisbane. Indeed, in terms of domestic destinations, Brisbane Airport is the best-connected airport in Australia.

Brisbane Airport wants to grow these numbers and the new runway will help it to do so by effectively doubling the airport’s aircraft movement capacity to around 100 per hour. Simple Flying has reported extensively on new flights from Brisbane to both San Francisco and Chicago in 2020. But the airport has its eye on Dallas and Seattle as well. A Brisbane Airport spokesperson said;

“We are keen to see a connection from Dallas into Brisbane in the medium term, and for the longer term, we remain highly interested in a service connecting us with Seattle. We are also interested in a direct route to South America.”

The ‘new’ domestic terminal at Brisbane is now over 30 years old but still holding up well. Photo: Kgbo via Wikimedia Commons.

Additionally, the airport thinks there are opportunities to build on existing services into Asia. They see potential in more services to second-tier Chinese cities, services to Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh and the woefully neglected Indian market. Brisbane Airport says Brisbane – Delhi is its largest unserved market.

I’ve been a regular user of Brisbane Airport since I was a kid. I’m old enough to remember the old TAA jets boarding passengers through the rear drop downstairs at the now disused terminal on the other (river) side of the airport. It has been fascinating to watch the airport grow, see the “new” domestic and international terminals open, and watch the airport get busier and busier.

The second runway opening in the middle of 2020 should see that growth continue.