What a relief!!! About time:
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MODERN AIRPORT A STEP CLOSER
By Tourism Writer STUART INNES in Brisbane
QANTAS has pledged to have new passenger terminal facilities, including airbridges, installed at Adelaide Airport "very, very shortly".
A senior Qantas manager revealed yesterday the airline would either develop its own terminal, or be a partner in a multi-user facility.
Qantas executive general manager of sales and marketing John Borghetti, speaking at the Australian Tourism Exchange in Brisbane, said an evaluation by the airline of its plans for Adelaide Airport was "taking place very, very rapidly". He said Qantas was taking into account service standards and economics when deciding on its options.
Qantas would not say when it expected the new facilities to be operating.
"But we will have a terminal with airbridges in Adelaide very, very shortly," said Mr Borghetti, who is responsible for reviewing Adelaide terminal facilities for the airline.
His comments have dramatically raised hopes Adelaide will have upgraded facilities, an improvement which was threatened by the collapse of Ansett last year.
Before the collapse, Adelaide Airport Ltd had an in-principle agreement with Qantas, Virgin Blue and Ansett for a $220 million multi-user terminal.
Qantas is in negotiation with airport operator Adelaide Airport Ltd's managing director Phil Baker, Mr Borghetti said.
"Phil Baker and his people have been very, very good in working with us to work out the numbers," Mr Borghetti said.
Mr Baker said he would meet Mr Borghetti again next week in an attempt to persuade him that a multi-user terminal was better than Qantas going alone on the development.
"I've sent him a load of information. He's said if it's a good deal for Qantas, it will happen," he said.
Mr Baker said the revised multi-user terminal with airbridges was estimated to cost about $170 million.
"But we are prepared to look at a lower cost terminal," Mr Baker said.
Virgin Blue said it was not interested in an "expensive multi-user terminal".
Virgin Blue commercial manager David Huttner said Virgin was interested in moving into the current Adelaide domestic terminal vacated by Ansett.
"We have never been very keen on airbridges," he said.
Airbridges were expensive and put pressure on airfares.
Aircraft could be "turned around" more quickly using movable steps on the tarmac, he said.
Virgin will need to move from its existing site in the international terminal because of its plans to increase the number Adelaide flights.
Adelaide Airport has only one airbridge, which is at the international terminal.
Yesterday Qantas also announced a new system for domestic passengers to check-in at airports themselves by using a credit card or Qantas club card.
QuickCheck kiosks would be opened in Sydney and Melbourne in August and then be installed in other city airports – including Adelaide – next year.
"Customers will be able to view a map of the aircraft and select a seat," Mr Borghetti said.
Qantas's $13 billion acquisition program was continuing, including the first of 12 Airbus A380 models due from 2006, he said.
All the capacity lost in the Ansett collapse had now been replaced, he said.