24 January 2019

Ripples widen Canberra’s international profile

| John Thistleton
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Brindabella Business Park has set the groundwork for two new tenancies. Photos: Canberra Airport

Brindabella Business Park has set the groundwork for two new tenancies. Photos: Canberra Airport.

Rapid growth of international flights into and from Canberra Airport have triggered a fresh tilt at direct flights to Auckland and the Americas.

Singapore Airlines stopped its Canberra to Wellington service 12 months ago, but the trans-Tasman opportunity continues to drive the airport’s aspirations.

Managing director Stephen Byron says the key focus in 2019 is achieving a service across the Tasman, particularly to Auckland.

“We would love to see Qantas take that up as Australia’s national carrier to connect our national capital to our nearest and dearest friend, the New Zealanders,” Mr Byron says.

“That is not to just connect us with the country of New Zealand and our Anzac friends but it would provide, through Auckland, a bridge to the Americas – both North and South America because there is significant connectivity to the major American cities out of Auckland,” he says.

Canberra Airport has capacity to spare for another carrier to begin direct flights to Auckland.

Canberra Airport has capacity to spare for another carrier to begin direct flights to Auckland.

In the early stages of introducing Canberra as a tourism destination to the world, Mr Byron says international flights’ ripple effect of people across Asia and Europe is only just starting.

Singapore’s daily flights and connections to 115 destinations and Qatar Airways services, particularly with European destinations, will continue bringing international visitors into the city.

More investment in the airport’s Pak Fresh facility will see it fully equipped for handling freight, particularly cold food, chilled seafood and the like. “That will dovetail well, particularly for the Singapore flight that flies out of here each night around 11 o’clock,” Mr Byron says.

Meanwhile, Brindabella Business Park has two new commercial office spaces on the drawing board, one with planning approval, one in the draft stages and on public exhibition.

With a workforce of 8000 people, business park tenancies are growing in the Defence, IT and cyber security sectors. One of the new buildings at 9 Molonglo Drive will be up to six storeys, with 20,000 square metres of net lettable space. Basement car parking will be built separately in order to cater for car parking demand in the precinct, regardless of tenancy timing.

“Part of the way in which the commercial market is here in Canberra is very much around a pre-commitment, so particularly the 9 Molonglo Drive project would really only be triggered by a tenant lining up to lease that building,” Mr Byron says. “That could happen during 2019, but I would probably forecast it to happen in 2020. The 9 Molonglo Drive building is very much a government building, a pre-commitment building.”

The other project, 6 Brindabella Circuit, comprising two buildings and worth $65 million, could suit a government tenant or private sector tenant.

This project could potentially start near the end of 2019 if it were approved.

“Brindabella Business Park is fully occupied. If the building is approved, we may decide to begin construction of it in light of discussion, particularly with existing tenants in the business park that are growing,” Mr Byron says. “We are seeing there is significant growth in tenants in the Defence, IT and cyber security space,” he says.

Last year the airport completed and opened the Australian Cyber Security Centre and headquarters for the Australian Border Force which is now being progressively occupied.

“Those agencies also engage significantly with the private sector,” Mr Byron says.

“It is interesting to see businesses expand and grow and win work and see them working with one another to win government contracts,” he says.

The business park is now best characterised as a knowledge working community and professional services space.

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I think a better solution would have been a regular Government subsidised and locked in reliable plane direct into Sydney international airport. You then choose your flight and carrier from Sydney.

With customs checks completed in Canberra it would have encouraged much better international access for locals and international visitors alike.

ACT government subsidies direct to the airlines isn’t turning into bums on seats.

Capital Retro6:31 pm 28 Jan 19

So, when David Suzuki travels to Australia to promote his next book he will shun air travel and instead use a solar powered win assisted boat?

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