Australia’s Brisbane Airport (BNE), the main gateway to the country’s Queensland region, has inaugurated its second runway. Possessing the first 100 percent LED “Cat 1” lighting system in the Southern Hemisphere, the 10,826-foot long privately-funded runway project was completed at a cost of $764,170,000 (AUD$1.1 billion), nearly as much as the cost of the entire airport when it was purchased by the Brisbane Airport Corp. (BAC) in 1997.
The runway opened on Sunday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, the landing of vintage aircraft, and an aerobatics display over the airport that temporarily ceased operations, marking the culmination of eight years of construction.
As a major “Down Under” entry port and commercial airline hub, the airport saw an average of approximately 50,000 passengers daily before the Covid-19 pandemic, a number that dropped by more than 97 percent during the country’s border lockdown. Since then, as domestic travel has begun to rebound, that number has risen to just more than 16,000 passengers daily.
Speaking at the opening, BAC CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff said he viewed the runway as more than just an expensive strip of asphalt. “I see hope because that means I believe absolutely that travel is at the heart of modern society, and the human need to explore means that ultimately nothing will keep us grounded forever,” he said.