Gold Coast Airport (GCA) is the sixth largest airport in Australia and one of the fastest growing. In 2019, GCA embarked on a three-year, $260m expansion of the main terminal building, adding 30,000m2 over three levels.
Arup was engaged two years before opening, to assist GCA with operational planning and provide an Operational Readiness Program lead role. An Operational Readiness program was established to seamlessly take the airport from construction to live operations. From Day One, the GCA and Arup teams worked collaboratively and built a strong working partnership.
The joint-team faced challenges in managing the impacts of the Covid pandemic, which included the loss of senior client executives as aviation became a risky industry, significant delays to the construction program, state border closures and the challenges of remote working.
Together, we overcame each challenge, and the Operational Readiness program was successfully planned and delivered. Key outcomes included:
- Through a Concept of Operations, we developed a well-defined vision of future operations in response to the new infrastructure and systems. This enabled the operational teams and airport partners to align on planning.
- Clear governance structure, engagement with the main works contractor, full engagement across the GCA organisation, and detailed planning of operational readiness activities, set the program up for success.
- The planning and project management for delivery of 30+ proving trials to simulate live operations brought the new infrastructure to life for the first time and allowed over 500 issues to be identified and resolved ahead of opening. This included a mass trial which involved ~300 members of the public acting as passengers and 100 operational staff running a snapshot of a typical day of operations. This generated positive press for the airport ahead of opening, and national media were present on the day.
- A clearly defined operational start-up and ramp-up plan managed the risk of opening. Less complex domestic operations began first with flight volume incrementally increased over the first few weeks. After a period of stabilisation, international operations were activated with a corresponding phased ramp up of demand. This allowed operational teams to absorb change, identify issues and resolve them before increasing operational complexity