Gold Coast Airport received the green light from the federal government today to proceed with its major terminal development,“ Project LIFT” (Let's Invest for Tomorrow) at the southern end of the airport.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Warren Truss said in signing off the development that the expansion will cater for future growth and increased passenger numbers expected during the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

More than 117,000 visitors, 5,000 athletes, 2,000 officials and 2,700 media representatives are expected to travel to the Gold Coast for the games, with most arriving through the airport.

"Gold Coast Airport currently services around six million passengers per year, which is forecast to grow to 16.3 million passengers in 2031,"Truss said.

"The development is expected to generate additional tourism expenditure of around $62 million per year and contribute approximately $426 million to the gross regional product over 20 years from 2015–16 to 2034–35."

Chris Mills, chairman of the airport's owner and operator, Queensland Airports Limited, said the investment came on top of $200m invested in the airport over the last decade. He said this demonstrated the company's confidence in the Gold Coast and the airport as a major contributor to the Queensland and New South Wales economies.

“ The region will benefit through the creation of more than 230 full-time jobs during stage one of construction, while an additional 180 direct full-time workers will be required for ongoing operations,” he said.

Gold Coast Airport's chief operating officer, Marion Charlton said the project was significant because of the benefits it would delivery to the regional economy as well as enhancing the city’s reputation as a leading tourism destination.

The first stage of construction is scheduled to start in the middle of this year with completion by 2017, prior to the Commonwealth Games. It includes two new wide-bodied aircraft stands, a three-level terminal development with four aerobridges and improved ground transport facilities.

Subsequent stages, scheduled for 2018 and late 2020, include further enhancements to the existing terminal building and three more wide-bodied aircraft parking stands.

Charlton said the arrival of more than 600,000 passengers last month – the highest number ever for a month - on the back of more than six million passengers in 2015, highlighting the urgent need to expand the terminal and apron space.

Construction, civil and mining companies, Watpac has been appointed managing contractor for the building component of Project LIFT; Cox Architects have been appointed architect and principal consultant while Aurecon will provide all building engineering services and Beca, the civil and airfield engineering services.

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