Menu lock

fossil carbon reduction

Sep 19, 2017


Krishan Tangri, BAC General Manager Assets, with some already installed solar panels

What do you do if you have a vast amount of sun soaked space in Queensland if you are a major airport? Brisbane Airport’s response is to use it to harvest free renewable energy and slash its reliance on fossil carbon emitting coal burning sources of electricity.

Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) is investing in a major renewable energy Solar PV project capable of generating more than 9,315,000 kilowatt hours a year.

(The announcement coincides with British Airways returning to the forefront of a push to replace fossil carbon emitting jet fuel with a renewed biofuel production goal in the UK, reported further down in this post.)

The Brisbane Airport 6MW system, consisting of 22,000 panels spanning an area of 36,000 meters squared or more than twice the size of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), will be installed across six sites at Brisbane Airport (BNE).

Brisbane Airport’s International Terminal alone will support 1.98MW with 7,133 panels covering more than 11,675 square metres, making it the largest single roof top solar panel installation at an Australian airport and BNE and the largest commercial roof top solar system in the Southern Hemisphere.

Krishan Tangri, BAC General Manager Assets, said electricity is one of the biggest expenses to running Brisbane Airport with dozens of large buildings requiring cool, lighting and heating 24 hours a days, 365 days a year.

“We are acutely aware of the increasing energy needs of running a major airport and since 2012 we’ve had an extensive energy reduction program in place resulting in the completion of 40 projects which collectively save more than 8 GWh per year.

“We are in the enviable position of having thousands of square metre of un-impeded roof space ideal for solar harvesting and, with systems becoming more efficient and more affordable to install, it makes financial sense to invest in this readily available supply of renewable energy to save costs and decrease our carbon footprint.

“Once fully operational, the new system will account for 18 per cent of BAC’s direct electricity consumption, or 6 per cent of our total consumption, further complementing the savings we’re making through air conditioning control optimisation, lighting control upgrades and LED technology within BAC buildings, car parks and street lighting,” Mr Tangri said.

The solar energy generated per year is equivalent to powering over 1,700 Australian homes for a year, with carbon offset equal to planting over 50,000 trees or taking 1,500 cars off the road each year.

Epho, an Australian commercial solar company specialising in serving Australian businesses with solar energy solutions, collaborated with Sam Khalil Managing Director of Shakra Energy.

Shakra Energy is the developer of commercial and large scale solar plants and the party that assembled the team for the bid. Sam Khalil will be on the steering committee to ensure an efficient and effective development of the solar development.

Oliver Hartley, Epho Managing Director, said the BAC project is not only the biggest commercial solar installation in the Southern Hemisphere, it is also one of the more complex given the live environment of the airport.

“To win this project, Epho had to demonstrate superiority in project management, stakeholder management, engineering, operations and work health and safety.

“The introduction of such a significant solar system is a prime example of how BAC is adopting world-leading technologies in harmony with its sustainability focus,” Mr Hartley said.

Design of the system is currently underway with installation commencing from December 2017 and completion expected in August 2018.

British Airways returns to the fossil carbon free fuel quest

In another development today British Airways has committed to a new plan to make its own biofuel derived from waste biomass, similar to the GreenSky project that BA signed up to with US firm Solena in 2010.

The unfortunate history of that initial project is recounted in this article in Air Transport World. You might need to take out a free subscription to read this ATW story.

However the punch lines are that BA expects to refine sufficient non fossil carbon releasing jet fuel to to power all of its  787 Dreamliner flights from London to San Jose, California and New Orleans, Louisiana for a whole year.

One of the cost advantages of biofuel is that it can be made on or near the airports where it is going to be loaded into waiting aircraft, saving the inefficiencies that result from remote refining and often long distance tankering of  conventional fuel.

This is an important if neglected issue in Australia, where the policy settings appear to embrace the refining closures that force the country’s transport and industrial users of refined petroleum products to rely on imports.


Aug 29, 2017


Dreamliner livery detail from a Qantas image of its 787-9s

Qantas has named Brisbane as the second base for its initial tranche of eight 787-9s, hosting the four Dreamliners not already assigned to a Melbourne base.

Its group CEO, Alan Joyce, said “Each aircraft we base in Brisbane brings new jobs. One hundred and twenty of our Dreamliner cabin crew and pilots will be based in the city, with many choosing to settle in the state. A further 350 indirect jobs are expected to be created as a result.

“We’ve said that initially our Dreamliners will replace the routes that our older 747 fly but there are also new destinations we are looking at given the capability of the aircraft. A range of exciting options is on the table that will help drive tourism to the state and we look forward to making that decision in coming months.”

From Brisbane a 787-9 could fly non-stop with commercially attractive payloads to Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, Vancouver and numerous established or potential destinations in China and the even wider Asia hemisphere. The reference to the specific cities in North America was contained in the Qantas statement.

Qantas’s first four in its fleet of eight Dreamliners would be based in Melbourne, serving the Melbourne – Los Angeles route from December 2017 and the Melbourne – London (via Perth) route from March 2018. This is the world’s first service to link Australia directly with the UK.

Qantas will take delivery of its first Dreamliner in October 2017 with the 787-9 operating on domestic sectors for six weeks for crew training and familiarisation before its first scheduled Melbourne – Los Angeles service on 15 December 2017.

Today’s announcement adds to the growing interest of foreign carriers in building up a Brisbane presence, with Singapore Airlines recently announcing it will link Singapore with the SEQ hub three times daily with Airbus A350s this coming summer.

It also underscores the Qantas advantage over Virgin Australia, which has no spare or new capacity in sight for additional wide-body services from Queensland to overseas points.


Aug 15, 2017


Singapore Airlines A350-900

Singapore Airlines is taking increased demand for premium seating on the Brisbane-Singapore route (and its multitude of connections to other cities in Asia and Europe) very much to heart, deploying three new Airbus A350 rotations to the service over four months from October 16, as well as adding a fourth daily flight, type not specified.

The A350s all feature the latest version of the airline’s wide as well a long business class suites, which can be flipped over from a recliner set to a flat, plush bed.

They also bring its new premium economy cabins to the Brisbane market.

The Brisbane route and its all important global access via Singapore Airport, is attracting a massive commitment by Singapore Airlines, which appears set on a course to use its order for 67 A350s to expand both network and frequency in ways that will shore up the importance of the city state as a hub and destination in its own right.

Which should also work for Qantas in the sense that there are open skies between Australia and Singapore, where the Qantas group has invested in  a major way in its Jetstar Asia franchise.

SingaporeAir’s Brisbane initiative is of course part of a major remaking of the group’s product offerings, including through its low cost brand Scoot, and all new features in its five replacement A380 flagships, and refurbishment of the balance of that fleet, and the introduction in coming years of Boeing 777-X series jets and Dreamliner 787-10s.

A key plank of the growth policies of Singaporean administrations has been to drive economic activity through the Changi hub, and make it the key one-stop route between Australia and New Zealand and India, as well as defending its legacy strengths in the UK and European markets.

What Singapore Airlines does in Brisbane reflects those imperatives.

It sounds very much like  case of ‘who dares wins’, or perhaps ‘loses’, in an open market situation, although such liberalisation has yet to take root and flourish in secondary routes throughout Asia involving low cost franchises in particular.


Dec 22, 2015



Nov 25, 2013



Jun 20, 2013



Jun 19, 2013



Apr 10, 2013



Apr 7, 2013


June 2012 photo SW Rail Link Leppington station, Blue Mountains beyond, Badgerys Creek nearby


The timing of today’s Ministerial statement about delays at Sydney Airport, and certain omissions within it, are significant.

No-one could accuse the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, of wavering in his pursuit of a second Sydney Airport to overcome the very substantial economic misfortunes that are already flowing for Australia’s largest yet most intractably and short sightedly managed transport gateway and hub.

When federal Labor is put to the sword in the September election Albanese will leave office with some remarkable and life saving highway improvements to his lasting credit, as well as the dedicated rail freight line in Sydney which some rail enthusiasts feel will have prevented a future disaster in which a massive freight derailment would have taken out commuter trains and ended hundreds of lives.

Mixing suburban traffic and freight is a sure fire route to calamity over time, and the peril has been much reduced at least in the densest parts of the Sydney metropolitan network.

But, back to today’s statement, as shown below, with some words emphasised in bold font.

More than 5.2 million people were delayed flying in or out of Sydney in 2012, showing yet again Sydney Airport is struggling to cope with the continued growth in passenger numbers.

The figures are based on data collected by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics showing that around 2.8 million domestic passengers flying into Sydney were delayed by 15 minutes or more and a further 2.4 million delayed flying out.

The number of people delayed at Sydney Airport has grown 23.2 per cent over the last 5 years, double the increase in people delayed at Australia’s second largest airport, Melbourne.

By 2020, the number of people delayed at Sydney is expected to grow to 13 million.

For more and more people, this means missing connecting flights, being stuck in the air or at the airport, and less time at work or with their families.

The reality is that without extra aviation capacity through a second airport, the number of people who are delayed because of congestion at Sydney Airport will only grow.

Four out of every 10 flights within Australia are in and out of Sydney Airport. As the linchpin of our aviation network, when Sydney is disrupted, the whole network is disrupted.

These facts highlight both the economic impact and the consequences for airlines and passengers if they can’t get access to Sydney in the future.

The solution is simple – Sydney needs a second airport sooner rather than later.

Sydney needs a second airport to handle growing domestic and international demand and create jobs in the economy.


It’s not just Sydney congestion which is now entrapping flights in cascading delays, but the inept private and public oversight of Brisbane Airport which is  moving into hideous dis-synchronicity with Sydney to bring inter city flights into chaos across Australia.

Brisbane needs a second long runway now  yet an airport run entirely for the benefit of its private owners has placed it in a position where it won’t get that runway for at least eight years, and is demanding that the airlines pay up to 25% of what is arguably an inflated price for its construction up front so that it can continue to reward shareholders with dividends befitting its far sighted and excellent management!

The out of control financial engineering and fee invention which bedevils private public partnership funding in this country, and delivers absurdly expensive quotes for everything from metro railways to toll roads, needs urgent and detailed government attention, but is there an Australian government that has the capacity to take on a financial sector which gets behind projects because they get up-front fees, rigged early completion bonuses, and structures in which payments between parties within the complex ownership structures can exceed the paying down of capital expenditure or the faster retirement of project debt?

It seems as unlikely as it is urgent.

When Brisbane gets congested, it stuffs up Sydney even worse than it stuffs itself up at times. The incompetent planning in both Sydney and Brisbane airports compounds the national as well as NSW and QLD consequences of awesomely second rate managements indulged for too long by state and federal governments lacking the vision that has, at last, galvanised a Minister in Canberra, but who won’t be there after  14 September anyhow.

Minister Albanese says in his statement (see bold font above) that Sydney’s problems affect the entire country. Which is obviously true. But less obviously, certain to be diluted by the diversion, at the NSW economy’s cost, of activity which regards efficient air transport as essential, to other cities.

The very failure to fix Sydney’s airport means the economic geography of the future is being shaped to exclude its capacity to hinder and harm.

Which at the moment, means that what Sydney discourages, Melbourne encourages, since Brisbane has been crippled by the primacy of ownership interests at its airport over the public expectation that it would actually run itself as an enterprise that was in partnership with the growth of SE Queensland.

It can also mean that Canberra can grow at Sydney’s expense, if Canberra decides it wants to be a city of several million people.  Canberra can if it wishes, become a true inland and national capital for commerce as well as government, with Sydney just a side trip away by road, which is, to the annoyance of many, vastly more efficient at moving people between widely dispersed points in the Sydney sprawl and the ACT sprawl, than flights or trains, even fast trains, connecting two airports or two rail terminals.

The timing of the latest Albanese statement has to be of some significance, since the content just repeats or updates past recitals of statistics. Why now?

One reason could be that the search party sent out into the wilds of SW Sydney to find a site for several adjacent and useful and politically feasible jet runways near Wilton has apparently chosen to come back to the office rather than flee into voluntary exile somewhere safer, like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or Paraguay.

The report has been overdue, since late December. It is to be the key to resolving whatever deals Labor might have struck with whichever interested parties as to the future land use of holdings close to the Commonwealth owned site for a second airport at Badgerys Creek.  Anyone who thinks that Labor is unanimously focused on the public interest in building Badgerys Creek believes in fairy tales, but there are forces for good at work too, which means the case for the site becoming an airport is not yet lost, yet still in limbo.

Clearly, the Wilton Expedition has delivered something to the Minister, and we are being prepared for it.

Whether it is advice that Wilton is as useless as 99% of those familiar with the area know that it is, or that at fabulous cost there is a way to build an airport that will be seriously inferior to Badgerys Creek that the Minister can them dress up as supportable, we should ‘soon’ known.  I just don’t know how soon ‘soon’ is, after a terse message from a contact today.  But it is ‘soon’ as in ‘before 14 September’, which at the moment, seems like an eternity away.

Given that grand stuff ups seem to be the trademark of the current government, the odds would have to be on a Wilton project that would make lunatic plans for an aerial railway to an airport located in the Wolgan Valley seem quite rational.

And, in an update to the photo at the top of the page, showing the current terminus for the SW Rail Link (a.k.a Badgerys Creek extension to the Airport Line) the overhead wiring on the rail flyover and associated trackwork at the Glenfield interchange is looking almost ready for action.


Mar 30, 2013


Air New Zealand did fly a 'different' type of visitor to Marcoola

As the enormity of the Brisbane Airport crisis continues to flood the city that finds its growth ambitions hostage to demands for advance funding of a second long runway which will take eight years to complete anyhow, the Sunshine Coast is leveraging the situation for all this it is worth. Continue reading “Brisbane airport debacle spurs Marcoola’s* ambitions”


Mar 5, 2013



Brisbane Airport, and the skyline it struggles to serve: BAC photo

The top story on the Courier-Mail today is about a review of Brisbane’s regional and general aviation airports and in some case, airstrips, to see how they can help overcome a crisis of unreliability and crowding at its main Brisbane Airport.

It is an alarming story for anyone familiar with those ‘options’ in that it underlines the desperation of the Brisbane situation given the eight years or so it will take for the construction of a second long runway at the main airport to solve today’s problems, and maybe, but not necessarily, then cater for the growth that the city will miss out on during that period.

The two nearest substantial airports that do to a limited extent already compete with Brisbane Airport are at the Gold Coast, but at the extreme southern end of it, at Coolangatta, and at Maroochydore, on the Sunshine Coast.

Both airports are well run, and quite pleasant to use, but heart attack territory if you were thinking of using them to get to or from the Brisbane CBD for business meeting purposes, given the vagaries of road traffic and the time taken and the more limited services and frequencies on offer from both, and the more so in the case of the less busy Maroochydore airport.

The Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast airports will grow considerably between now and late 2020, which is about when the second long runway at Brisbane Airport would be ready. The Gold Coast in fact might grow so successfully that it suffers from the limited area of the airport, raising yet again the semi-mythic  vision of a new airport beyond the northern end of the Gold Coast at Jacobs Well which would also be within competitive striking distance of Brisbane proper.

Otherwise the closer aerodromes are Archerfield, about 12 kms from the CBD, and a busy general aviation and corporate jet airport in its own right, and Caboolture, which is 55 kilometres away, on a lease that is said to expire in 2018,  and comprising grass or rudimentary strips suitable for light aircraft and microlights.

Archerfield doesn’t offer any options for proper longer runways suitable for modern interstate or even regional Queensland jets. It does however have potential to take more higher paying biz jets and smallish corporate turbo-props.

None of this encouraging. The RAAF base at Amberley has a runway of just over 3000 metres, and regularly takes larger and heavy military jets, and is about 50 kilometres from the CBD.  This is a busy, growing and important military asset, and it would take much planning and money to come up with an appropriate way of opening it up to civilian use, possibly through the building of another large runway. There is no sign that anyone is taking Amberley seriously as a future option for flights to greater Brisbane.

However there is a Lockyer Valley Regional Airport project, at a flood proof location, which recently received local government approval  and could provide emergency services and private pilots with a runway by the end of this year.

What happens next? It is possible that the unthinkable or way out options will get some traction, but Jacobs Well is, as the name suggests, a very wet site, cursed it appears with the same sea level sodden soils as Brisbane airport that will require a great deal of land fill and compaction work to establish a base strong enough to endure for decades as  the foundations for new runways and terminals.

There are no obvious practicable alternatives to making funding peace over this, and doing everything possible to try and shorten the time taken to get the second long Brisbane runway  into service.  The solutions may be at least as hard to deal with as those involved in building a second Sydney Airport.

Updated with reference to Lockyer Valley Regional Airport project.


Feb 22, 2013


What does the future hold for the megatropolis that is rising within the Gold Coast-Brisbane-Sunshine Coast area, now that the row over a new runway for Brisbane Airport is in full voice in the Queensland media?

If the history of air transport in this country since the jet age began is a guide, it will be a far bigger and more exciting future than the airports or airlines claim to see today, because they have always underestimated the future in the past.

Seen from outside, SEQ has a massive future. It also has three main airports that will be overwhelmed by growth and thus hinder that future if they are managed only as property investment companies in which the directors, as required by law, do nothing more than focus very tightly on delivering maximum returns in as few years as possible to their owners.

Brisbane Airport Corporation like the other privatized gateway airports purchased a very long term lease on an opportunity to do what ever it liked with the asset. There are no meaningful limitations on its actions.  The retail opportunities they present, and the charges they collect from the airlines, are set to as much as it can get away with subject to depressing demand so that higher prices are undermined by lower demand or gross revenue.

In the case of Brisbane Airport, its future will benefit as well to the extent that Sydney Airport screws up, and drives the business activities that generate air travel out of Sydney to locations in Melbourne or SEQ.

What is bad for Sydney is good for greater Brisbane, and greater Melbourne, and there is a lot that is bad in maritime, rail and road access to and within Sydney, notwithstanding some recent, costly and delayed improvements to rail freight handling.

SEQ like greater Melbourne, has an amazing amount of space for the physical aspects of economic growth to exploit. Sydney is topographically constrained.  There is much of Sydney that would need to be tunneled, graded or otherwise terraformed, to provide the expansion opportunities of flat and comparatively easy to access land in its northern and southern rivals.

Sydney is made unlucky in this sense by both its political legacies and the topopgraphy that makes it such a beautiful place.

Like Melbourne, Brisbane does also have the space to build competing airports to the main airport.  Loitering with intent in the background is an opportunity to build a second major Brisbane airport north of the Gold Coast, that could ultimately also replace the Gold Coast airport, or ‘liberate’ its incredible real estate value, when the success of the current airport, at Coolangatta, becomes too much for the space available.

Such an airport would not however remove the need for the existing Brisbane Airport,  far from it,  but it might prove very relevant to the future southwards movement of Brisbane’s economic landscape, as well as Gold Coast growth.

A Brisbane Airport that became perceived as an obstacle rather than facilitator of Brisbane’s economy would advance the possibility of a second Brisbane/Gold Coast airport closer above the distant horizon than it is now, just as will the future onset of congestion at the existing Gold Coast airport.

How might the new Brisbane Airport runway come into being faster than seems likely at the moment? Arguably the same way tourism and other trophy industrial or investment developments are encouraged to happen in Queensland and all over Australia, which is through ‘incentives’.

The state interest in lifting net economic activity through negotiated incentives and the insistence of companies to lower risk or cost in investing in such activities generally ends up with a compromise the makes the wheels of commerce, or the jet turbines, turn.

If, for argument’s sake, the Queensland government incentivizes the Brisbane Airport Corporation to build the damn thing pronto, its not money that the airlines or the airport is going to try to claw back from travellers. Its not going to be a charge that is self defeating by discouraging travel, although it will be a charge on public state revenues.

Nor is it an outcome the Newman government is likely to relish, but it’s a fair bet it has seen it coming, and there is nothing it can do to force the Brisbane Airport Corporation to forgo its profit strategy with an accelerated capital expenditure program for the second major runway project.

It could be termed a ransom demand, except that the Brisbane Airport Corporation hasn’t asked for one, in as many words, although the notion of an airport holding a state economy hostage has a popular media appeal about it, should the subtleties of airport to government signalling break down.


Sep 29, 2008


Brisbane airport last night was a perfect reminder that Australia relies on implausible scenarios, imperfectly screened, to create an impression that air travel is secure.

Early in the evening a number of Qantas passengers, the Courier-Mail says there were only three of them, reached their departure gates in the ‘airside’ part of the terminal without them or their hand luggage being screened.

Brisbane airport declared that the risk of mingling with intent was so great it not only evacuated the entire domestic terminal, but those Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Blue flights that were awaiting push back. Who would have thought that a terrorist plot would involve something as cunning as the exchange of bombs or weapons between passengers using different airlines up to 500 metres apart? Exactly how is that going to make a better bang?

So everyone goes outside and really does mingle, nice and tight, just the way a suicide bomber would like. Perfect for those unscreened backpackers who arrived on the airport train, or those suitcase toting swarthy looking men who arrived by taxi right outside the damned building just before the curtain went up on the airport’s second supersized security drama in a week.

The trouble with security fiascos like this is that they eventually make people ask the crucial questions.

Such as whether the screening line or the aircraft is the terrorist target? Or whether the screening of checked or carried luggage works 100%? Or whether it is a deliberate farce? The answers are likely to be ‘Both’, ‘No’ and ‘Yes’ in that order.