Archerfield airport was established in the early 1930's and served as Brisbane's primary and international airport up until 1949 with Qantas, Ansett ANA and Trans Australia Airlines offering Regular Passenger Transport (RPT) services.
During World War II the airport became a hive of activity hosting the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Netherlands Air Force, United States Army Air Forces and Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. Following World War II, Eagle Farm dominated aviation activity and Archerfield assumed secondary significance. Archerfield turned its focus towards flight training and in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s, movements peaked at approximately 320,000 per year.
Lack of investment caused a gradual decline in serviceability, such that by the late 1980s much of the infrastructure had declined towards disrepair. Environmental standards had deteriorated, and commerciality had eroded.
Throughout the 1990’s determined efforts were made by the Federal Airports Corporation to restore the airport to viability, but a lack of investment capital hindered those endeavours.
In 1998, Archerfield was privatised. It now operates as the major general aviation airport in Queensland, and the metropolitan airport for greater Brisbane. Aircraft movements have remained relatively steady in the past decade at approximately 140,000 per year. The airport has the capacity, and remains available, for Regular Passenger Transport services should the need arise in the future. Consultation with the community and airport stakeholders would be required before this could proceed.
Along with 20 other significant Australian Airports, Archerfield was privatised in the late 1990’s and now operates under the Australian Airports Act 1996. The airport remains on Commonwealth owned land, and the operation and management roles are now performed by Archerfield Airport Corporation (AAC).
AAC is a local family owned business with ties to the airport dating back to the 1950’s. It holds the 99 year ground lease of the airport and has operated and managed the airport since privatisation on 19th June 1998. Prior to this time, the airport was operated and managed by various departments of the Commonwealth Government. It continuously operated at a loss. Maintenance and improvements to the facility were paid for by the Australian taxpayer.
The Federal Airports Corporation (FAC) was established in the late 1980’s and attempted to stem the financial losses by identifying non-aviation related commercial development opportunities. A number of industrial tenancies were developed on airport land not required for aviation purposes. Notwithstanding, the airport was still operating at a loss at the time of privatisation in 1998.
AAC has gradually turned this around whilst injecting significant capital into the repair, restoration and renewal of the airport precinct. Today, the airport business is a robust economic entity. For the first time, it is giving back to the taxpayer by contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars to public coffers through rates paid to BCC and payments in lieu of State land taxes. It also for the first time pays income tax on the modest profit it has begun to generate.
Continuing on the work initiated by the FAC, AAC has dedicated further resources to create TRANSITION Archerfield Logisitics Estate. TRANSITION is a premium grade industrial estate to cater for the growing needs of the South West Industrial Gateway in which the airport is situated. The 24 hectare estate is available for both aviation and non-aviation developments. The subsequent cash flow will underwrite much needed renewal and development of aviation facilities on the airport itself.
AAC is cognisant of the social responsibilities entrusted to it by the Commonwealth and the opportunities that exist for it to play an important role in improving the external traffic network for the benefit of the total community. The Corporation will consider all reasonable proposals to improve surrounding roads so long as they do not significantly disadvantage the airport itself or the community it serves.
AAC, with Commonwealth approval, dedicated a strip of land on the northern boundary of the airport to BCC in 2007 for the creation of Barton Street, significantly reducing congestion along the Brisbane Urban Corridor. With the Commonwealth's approval, it will also dedicate a strip of land along the entirety of Boundary Road west, enabling BCC's 2025 design guidelines for a four-lane road. In 2013 AAC contributed in excess of $3.5 million to external infrastructure works for surrounding road improvements.
The realisation of this vision will be underpinned by AAC’s philosophy of pragmatic commercial management in association with sound environmental management. In conjunction with servicing agencies and relevant development interests on airport and in the district, AAC will progressively develop the infrastructure serving the airport. This will facilitate the continued successful operation of the aviation and non-aviation aspects of the airport enterprise.
AAC is sensitive to the emotional attachments of those who would will Archerfield forward to a future that is an image of the past. That future cannot be. It is a measure of the affection that so many feel towards Archerfield that they grieve for an earlier time. As demonstrated time and again prior to privatisation however, the operation of the airport cannot continue without the injection of capital from non-aviation related developments on areas of the airport that aren’t required for aviation purposes.
AAC has a long-term commitment to Archerfield Airport. It will continue to develop a balance of commercial and aviation related businesses to ensure the airfield’s long-term financial sustainability and to unlock its potential to develop into a superior aviation destination.
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