Rent-a-crowd to put Gold Coast airport through its paces ahead of opening

More than 500 faux passengers are today boarding flights to nowhere in a mass trial of the Gold Coast’s new airport terminal ahead of the “sophisticated” major new facility opening to travellers from next week.

Aug 30, 2022, updated Aug 30, 2022
The Gold Coast Airport's new terminal is having final crowd-testing before it opens next week. (Image; Supplied).

The Gold Coast Airport's new terminal is having final crowd-testing before it opens next week. (Image; Supplied).

The upgraded terminal is double the size of the existing facility and is designed to cater to as many as 10 million passengers a year.

After three years of construction and part of a $500 million overhaul of the Gold Coast airport precinct, the terminal has been upgraded from a cramped shed bursting at the seams to a “design-focused multi-level gateway” that will open to domestic and international passengers from Tuesday 6 September.

The new 30,000 square metre terminal extends over three levels, has six new gates and is capable of catering to an additional 19 large aircraft.

Queensland Airports Limited Chief Executive Officer Amelia Evans said it would provide the space needed to better connect the Gold Coast region to the world.

“Our vision was to create a terminal that caters for long-term growth,” Evans said.

“We knew the Gold Coast region and the catchment that we service, which includes northern NSW, we knew we would need to cater for an extensively higher number of passengers.

“Given we are about 6.5 million passengers today, and we are hoping to be up to 10 million passengers by the time the Olympics come, we’ve had to make sure our terminal caters for that growth.”

The 500 volunteers swarming through the airport today, recruited from 1,100 expressions of interest from the local community, businesses and universities as well as a troupe of local plane spotters eager to check out the terminal makeover, will act as passengers ahead of the official opening.

Over five hours, the faux passengers will run through different scenarios that test international border security, new glass aerobridges, signage for wayfinding around the airport, baggage collection, and the passenger journey through domestic and international departures and arrivals.

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“The intention was to have real diversity. We wanted people who speak different languages, we wanted old people to young people, we people with physical ability challenges,” Evans said.

“Mass trials are not necessarily intended to run perfectly. We are looking for things to go wrong so we can actually fix them.”

Evans said the airport was already operating at pre-Covid domestic passenger numbers, with new records anticipated for the September school holidays.

International flights were also returning with Scoot, Jetstar, and Air New Zealand operating international services in and out of the Gold Coast. Virgin Australia has also confirmed it will start flying between the Gold Coast and Bali early next year.

Evans said the new terminal was not only bigger and capable of dealing with more passengers, but was tailored to the changing face of flyers.

“The travelling demographic has changed. Gold Coast used to be just families coming up, but now it’s business travel, it’s also higher-end travel, so due to people’s change in behaviour and demand we’ve had to really upscale including our retail and food and beverage as well,” Evans said.

“It’s still a good mix. It will still cater for your cheap holidays on the Gold Coast, but it also needed to lift itself in terms of being a bit more sophisticated with the future demographics. That’s absolutely the vision and that’s what we’ve achieved with this expansion.”


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