Virgin Australia and Perth Airport today celebrated the start of operations at the new T1 Domestic terminal, nestled between T1 International and T2.
The previous night, twelve Virgin Australia aircraft were towed across from Terminal 3 on the west side of the airport, to T1 Domestic on the east side. Terminal 3 will be used by Qantas from 29 November, in addition to Terminal 4.
The long-awaited new terminal pier was built specifically for Virgin Australia. T1 Domestic is the most significant project in Perth Airport’s $1 billion redevelopment, and a key milestone in the transition to collocating all airline operations around T1 and T2. Until today, Virgin Australia had operated from three terminals on opposite sides of the airport, and the new T1 Domestic enables the consolidation of Virgin’s regional/FIFO, mainline intrastate/interstate and international services together on the east side for the first time, making it easier for passengers to transfer between flights.
The terminal was designed by Australian-based international architects, Woods Bagot. It was constructed by Built Environs over three years at a cost of $190 million. Over 4200 contractors and suppliers worked an estimated 1.8 million man hours to build the 250-metre long Pier. Construction used over 15,000 cubic metres of concrete, 2,000 tonnes of steel, and 35,000 square metres of glazing and cladding to the exterior of the building.
PHOTOS BELOW COVER THE FIRST FLIGHTS TO USE THE TERMINAL, AND INTERIOR/EXTERIOR PHOTOS
The front doors opened at 5:46am and first passengers entered, these being for the first departure to Adelaide.
The first flight arrival at the new terminal was Virgin Australia flight VA713 from Adelaide at 7.26am, operated by Embraer E190 VH-ZPN, which was greeted by a water cannon salute from the Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting crews.
The first departing flight was the same aircraft departing back to Adelaide as flight VA714 at 8.27am.
In the days and weeks prior to the opening, passengers were advised by Virgin Australia and Perth Airport through an extensive media campaign, emails and text messages. Despite this, some passengers still turned up at T1 Domestic when they were meant to go to T2, and others went to the old T3 when they had been advised to use the new T1 Domestic. However, these passengers sheepishly admitted that they hadn’t read the advice from the airlines and airport.
The first services by each Virgin Australia type were as follows:
First arrival and first Embraer E190 arrival
VH-ZPN ‘Arrawarra Beach’
VA713 from Adelaide at 7:26am – Bay 148A
First departure and first E190 departure
VH-ZPN ‘Arrawarra Beach’
VA714 to Adelaide at 8:27am – Bay 148A
First Boeing 737-800 arrival
VH-VUD ‘Tallows Beach’
VA551 from Sydney at 9:19am – Bay 147B
First Boeing 737-800 departure
VH-VUV ‘Binalong Bay’
VA682 to Melbourne at 9:10am – Bay 143
First Airbus A330-200 arrival
VH-XFC ‘Mooloolabah Beach‘
VA685 from Melbourne
First Airbus A330-200 departure
VH-XFD ‘Bells Beach’
VA556 to Sydney at 10:50am – Bay 150
First Fokker 100 arrival
VA1878 from Newman
First Fokker 100 departure
VH-FSQ ‘Bill’s Bay’
VA1483 to Broome at 10:42am – Bay 144
Terminal 1 Domestic was originally scheduled for completion in June 2014, but a series of delays put it 17 months behind schedule.
These delays caused inconvenience and confusion to Virgin Australia passengers, due to operations being split between the west and east sides of the airport, requiring a transit bus to catch connecting flights.
The first delays were first announced in November 2013, when the project was four months behind schedule. Further delays were revealed in May 2014, July 2014 and March 2015.
Perth Airport CEO Brad Geatches regretted the delays, noting that “the project is a large and complex one being integrated into the existing terminal facility”.
Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti was highly critical, saying “it’s not the first airport project that’s ever been put together and there far more complex ones than this one,’’ and that the delays were costing Virgin “tens of millions of dollars”. Construction problems also delayed the national rollout Virgin’s new check-in technology, and meant Business class passengers had to use inferior Virgin Australia lounges and facilities compared to the Eastern States.
28 domestic check-in kiosks and bag-drop technology;
12 aerobridge-serviced departure gates, including three A330-capable aircraft gates;
a central retail and dining area offering passengers and extensive range of options; and
a state-of-the-art Virgin Australia lounge featuring the airline’s signature Espresso and Wine Bar.
innovative sustainable design features to reduce energy consumption, including the use of natural light and a façade providing shade during summer.
T1 Domestic Timeline:
25 November 2010: Perth Airport announces a $500 million redevelopment plan, including a new joint international/domestic pier to be built on the south end of the current International Terminal, able to accommodate the Airbus A330-200s which Virgin Blue (later Virgin Australia) will receive in 2011 for use on Eastern States services. It will also include some A380-capable air bridges (Perth’s runways and taxiways were already A380-capable).
30 July 2012: Perth Airport issued the tender for the construction of the new Domestic Pier (later renamed T1 Domestic) and International Departures area expansion, the largest and most complex part of the Airport’s $750 redevelopment program. Designed by Australian-based international architects, Woods Bagot. Completion scheduled for June 2014.
September 2012: Early construction works for the new Pier (later renamed T1 Domestic) commenced, including services relocations, Pier footings and aircraft parking aprons.
29 January 2013: Perth Airport announced that Built Environs, part of the McConnell Dowell Group, was awarded the $330 million tender.
February 2013: Built Environs commenced main building works for T1 Domestic.
9 November 2013: Perth Airport CEO Brad Geatches confirms that the new Pier project is four months behind schedule and construction is now due to be completed in late October 2014. This will likely push its actual opening into January 2015, as various aspects of the new pier will need to be tested and staff training must be completed and Virgin would not wish to relocate during the busy Christmas period.
5 May 2014: Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti criticised Perth Airport for further delays in the construction of the Virgin Australia Pier. The Virgin Australia Pier was originally meant to open in June 2014, but this was delayed to October 2014, and has now been delayed again to January 2015. Virgin Australia has complained that the delays are costing the airline money and bad for customers. Virgin operates out of three terminals, on opposite sides of the airport – Terminal 1 is used for international flights to Phuket, Bali and Christmas Island. Terminal 2 is used by Virgin Australia Regional Airlines (formerly Skywest) on intrastate regional flights within WA, and Terminal 3 is used by Virgin Australia for both intrastate and interstate domestic flights. Perth Airport CEO Brad Geatches regrets the delay, noting that “the project is a large and complex one being integrated into the existing terminal facility”.
25 July 2014: Media reports that construction of the $190 million Virgin Australia Pier and terminal at Perth Airport is now 12 months behind schedule and it will not be in service until June 2015.
28 September 2014: Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti expresses frustration with delays to the new terminal, acknowledging that airport projects are complex, but “it’s not the first airport project that’s ever been put together and there far more complex ones than this one.’’ He says the delays are costing Virgin “tens of millions of dollars”. Perth Airport is to be the first in Australia to introduce Virgin’s new check-in technology, but the construction problems have delayed the national rollout of this technology as the plans cannot be changed. Perth currently has inferior Virgin Australia lounges and facilities compared to the Eastern States, and Virgin is operating from three separate terminals (T1, T2 and T3) on opposite sides of Perth Airport, causing passenger confusion. Perth Airport regrets the construction delays and confirmed that Virgin will move into the new Pier in June 2015, one year later than planned. Borghetti hopes that there will be no further delays, although he is not confident.
31 March 2015: Virgin Australia’s $200 million new terminal pier at Terminal 1 is again delayed, and is now expected to open in late 2015. The new pier was originally due to open in June 2014, but has been delayed several times. Upgrades to the Terminal 1 departures area are also behind schedule and a new building contractor has been brought in to finish the work.
26 September 2015: First trial, with the first aircraft to dock at the new pier being Virgin Australia Regional Airlines (formerly Skywest) Fokker 100 VH-FNY, which was also the first jet aircraft delivered to Skywest – it still wears the Skywest livery.
10 October 2015: A gates trial was held, using two Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800s, VH-VUO and VH-VUZ and one Airbus A330-200, VH-XFH.
13 October 2015: Another ‘passenger’ trial was held.
Late October 2015: More aerobridge trials.
27 October 2015: Perth Airport and Virgin Australia confirm that Terminal 1 (T1) Domestic Pier will commence operations from Sunday 22 November 2015.
7 November 2015: The full trial was held, using volunteers as passengers and ‘end-to-end’ tests of all operational aspects of the new terminal.
13 November 2015: Perth Airport held a media event this evening, to provide a preview of the newly-completed Virgin Australia Terminal 1 Domestic Pier, which opens on Sunday 22 November 2015. Perth Airport CEO Brad Geatches and Virgin Australia Group CEO John Borghetti toured the new T1 Domestic Terminal.
21 November 2015: Twelve Virgin Australia aircraft were towed from T3 to the new T1 Domestic, in preparation for the start of operations.
Sunday 22 November 2015: T1 Domestic commenced operations. The doors opened at 5:46am for the first passengers. The first flight arrival at the new terminal was Virgin Australia flight VA713 from Adelaide at 7.26am, operated by Embraer E190 VH-ZPN, which was greeted by a water cannon salute from the Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting crews. The first departing flight was the same aircraft departing back to Adelaide as flight VA714 at 8.27am.