Suitcases and luggage on a carousel at an airport; Suitcases and luggage on a carousel at an airport;

Gold Coast Airport Operational Readiness Activation Transition, Gold Coast

Designing the expanded Gold Coast Airport’s operational readiness model

Gold Coast Airport, situated in Queensland near the New South Wales border, is the state’s second-largest airport, welcoming six million domestic and international passengers a year.

In 2019, in response to increasing tourism and population growth, the airport commenced work on a $260-million terminal expansion, adding 30,000 square metres of new space and six new gates. With Gold Coast Airport forecast to facilitate ten million passengers a year by the end of the decade, it needed to reimagine how the infrastructure and operations would support current and future capacity.

Working closely with the airport as a trusted advisor, our operational consultants developed a new airport operational readiness strategy with a detailed programme of operational readiness activity. Our project management team supported the strategy’s implementation by upskilling the airport’s operational team and managing a rigorous trial programme.

We took a broad-ranging approach, guiding governance, training, trials, activation and community engagement to seamlessly transition the new airport from its finished state into live operation.

Project Summary

30+ operational desktop trials

40inductions and familiarisation activities conducted

400+community members participated in a mass trial

Rethinking Gold Coast Airport’s operational model

With the Southern Terminal Expansion set to double the footprint and passenger capacity of Gold Coast Airport, the organisation had to rethink how it would operate under this new model

Drawing on our global and local project expertise, we designed a new operational readiness strategy to detail how the airport would achieve readiness transition from construction to operation.

We worked closely with the Gold Coast Airport team to understand the existing operational model and future operating vision. Through a series of workshops with the airport’s operations team, border agencies and security, we collected diverse insights for integration into the strategy. 

With these insights, we understood what readiness activity the airport needed to undertake to achieve its future operational vision. We documented these insights and designed the strategy for successful implementation in time for the planned airport opening in November 2022. 

Gold Coast Airport’s Southern Terminal Expansion is the most significant change we’ve made to our operations in the history of the airport. In embarking on such a journey, we needed an experienced aviation ORAT specialist that could work as part of our team, supporting and guiding us through this transition. Arup has provided this and more. ” Marion Charlton Chief Operating Officer, Queensland Airports

Empowering operational staff with best-practice project management

Our next challenge was to support the Gold Coast Airport operational transition – turning the readiness strategy into a new, business-as-usual operating model.

With many staff changes in the aviation industry during the pandemic, the airport faced the challenge of project managing a new operating procedure with many new operational team members. Our consultants worked closely with the airport’s operations team, training and coaching staff members on the new operational processes and procedures. Our governance strategy set out a clear organisational structure with clear roles and responsibilities. 

Together, we conducted over thirty trials to test every aspect of the strategy in isolation, such as check-in and boarding, to uncover gaps and make changes.

The final test was a mass community trial where members of the Gold Coast community were invited to a ‘dress rehearsal’ to test the airport’s new operational strategy. Working with the airport’s community engagement team, we designed an interactive and entertaining airport simulation experience. Over 400 community members tested the full airport experience trialling all aspects of the terminal and passenger journey, including the airport’s new aerobridges, and then providing feedback on their experiences. 

This process ensured the airport was ready for opening day and future capacity demands. Through this testing process, we sought feedback from the community and helped the airport optimise passenger flow and processing times. 

This project is a significant change for the Gold Coast Airport. We are proud to support this critical infrastructure project and leave a legacy by upskilling the airport’s operational team. ” Peter Scuderi Peter Scuderi Principal | Assets and Operations, Operations Consulting Services – Australasia Leader