THE first stage of the $9.2m Mount Gambier Regional Airport revamp will open to the public next week following a week of testing communications, security and other services.
The Aero Espresso Café, hire car workstations, check-in counters, car park access – including long-term parking – and arrival and departures will start operating as of August 17.
The $6.2m first stage of the terminal rebuild started late last year and has included the demolition of the original terminal and a review of the overall construction program as a result of COVID-19.
In addition to the new terminal, council has extended the main runway by 120 metres, built a new heavy aircraft apron and installed new lighting and electrical upgrades to ensure continuity of the airport in the event of a power failure or a natural disaster.
Airside works were finished earlier this year, with council saying the project was tracking to be delivered on time and on budget.
Grant District Council chief executive Darryl Whicker praised the involvement of contractors, staff, stakeholders and elected members in the project.
He said a key feature of the new facility was the Ashley Hallidaydesigned atrium in the arrivals hall, which reflects the region’s sinkholes and replicates the unique Limestone Coast landscape to domestic arrivals.
“Now that people can move in and settle into the new spaces we hope the wait has been worth it and people are proud of our new terminal and infrastructure, which is fundamentally important to the Limestone Coast region,” Mr Whicker said.
“Through Stage 1 people will see the appeal of the building and the thought that has gone into the design and build.
“From the glimpses of the landscape and the surrounding vistas through the windows to the colour scheme and use of local timber, the whole building has put the region front and centre to create a strong impression for visitors.”
Member for Barker Tony Pasin said the soft opening was a major milestone towards the multi-million dollar airport upgrade.
“While passenger numbers may be reduced during the pandemic, it’s fantastic to see this project progressing,” he said.
“Once fully complete it will be a fantastic welcome to the region at a time that we will hopefully be starting to see visitors return with our tourism industry starting to ramp up and increased business activity in the Limestone Coast.
“Until then, the project is progressing well and supporting construction jobs along the way.”
Kennett Builders project manager Carlin McNeil said the Stage 2 build was quickly progressing, with workers moving fast towards the roof installation and weatherproofing.
“We are seeing already that this stage will move quicker than Stage 1 as there is less complexity involved in the build and we have got our local trades fully geared up onsite,” he said.
“We are tracking well to meet the December 2020 deadline for completion and are very excited to see people’s reaction when they walk into the terminal for the first time.”
Portable toilets will remain on site until the second stage progresses further and airport users will need to follow the directional signage until the intersection at the drop off zone is complete.