Skywalk, car park unveiled in $350m Brisbane Airport improvements

Brisbane was perfectly positioned to take advantage of the rapid expansion in Asia's travelling middle classes, federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said at Brisbane Airport today.

In this city this afternoon to formally open $350 million in improvements to Brisbane's Domestic Terminal, Mr Albanese said Queensland would benefit from China and Vietnam's growth.

"Air traffic fom China alone last year grew at some 42 per cent and the potential growth from the rising middle class in China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam is absolutely extraordinary," Mr Albanese said.

"And the people who visit Australia, will want to visit Queensland."

Earlier this month airline China Southern announced it would boost services between Brisbane and its base in China's third-largest city, Guangzhou, from four to seven a week, meaning there are now daily flights between Brisbane and China.

Chinese visitors into Cairns grew by 40 per cent in 2011, according to Tourism Queensland.

Brisbane Airport Corporation this afternoon hosted Mr Albanese at a function to mark the formal opening of a new nine-storey car park, a "skywalk" between the car park and domestic terminal, and changes to the road network in front of the domestic terminal.

Changes to the short-term parking situation would finally be ready in mid-September.

Mr Albanese said the next expansion stage of Brisbane Airport was the new parallel runway - to be completed by 2020 - and the upgrade of the existing domestic terminal buildings.

Brisbane Airport Corporation - which has a 99-year lease to run the Brisbane Airport - must have the final version of its Brisbane Airport Master Plan in place in about 18 months.

It would include the final details of the orientation of Brisbane's new parallel runway, which has just started preliminary ground work.

"But it also has to go through processes which include environmental impact statements and similar issues," Mr Albanese said.

Today he praised the work of Californian environmental artist, Ned Kahn, who has designed a huge artwork mounted on front of the new car park.

Mr Kahn, who was at Brisbane's domestic airport today, said he had fun working on what he described as a "gem of a parking garage".

He said he got the idea for the artwork after seeing a mast reflected in the water of the Brisbane River.

"I was taking photographs and I got intrigued with the reflection of a ship's mast in the river," he said.

"It was the way that the straight line of the mast got warped by the waves.

"So I took a bunch of photographs of it and basically we superimposed the line of the warped mast on this huge facade."

The artwork includes 117,643 aluminium panels, manufactured in China, and finally assembled by hand in Brisbane earlier this year.

Brisbane Airport's acting CEO Tim Rothwell said the new domestic terminal was being slowly changed to cope with congestion at the "terminal face".

In the existing plans Brisbane was going to copy the plan used in Sydney and Melbourne, and at Brisbane's International terminal, with check-ins upstairs and arrivals downstairs, he said.

"We have re-planned that," Mr Rothwell said.

"This involves elevating the passenger above the road to create significantly more road capacity in the long-term."

Travelling plans were changing, with an increase in short-travel journey, meaning more travellers with limited baggage, he said.

"We are seeing people without bags upstairs and people with bags downstairs."

"So in time - this skywalk we are on - will break into the (domestic terminal) building at the upper level, delivering a seamless trip through to the gate."

"So for the business traveller, or even the leisure traveller , without having to check in bags, they will have a very streamlined process through the airport."

In six to eight years, Brisbane Airport Corporation plans to widen the skywalk "mouth", where it entered the terminal building, to allow passengers, baggage, security and extra retail space, he said.

"I would imagine the domestic terminal will be improved prior to the new runway opening," he said.

The story Skywalk, car park unveiled in $350m Brisbane Airport improvements first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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