Virgin Australia Airlines First to Depart Brisbane’s New Runway

July 11, 2020 Updated: July 12, 2020

A Virgin Airlines passenger plane has created history by becoming the first aircraft to depart from Brisbane airport’s heralded new runway.

A Boeing 737-8FE, destined for Cairns, departed about 11.15 a.m. after first passing under a water-arch guard-of-honour produced from the water cannons of two emergency service vehicles.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was among dignitaries at the launch on Sunday to see the flight depart with 170 passengers.

She said the runway would not only accommodate more passenger planes but also freight services which alone was “worth billions” to Queensland’s economy.

“This is setting up Queensland for the future,” she told reporters.

“To see that first full planeload of tourists heading up to Cairns on that Virgin flight was good news indeed.”

The runway took eight years to construct at a cost of more than $1 billion and will double Brisbane Airport’s capacity for aircraft movements.

Other than for severe weather events, planes will be able to arrive and depart without hindrance.

It’s predicted to take four decades until the airport even gets close to reaching its scheduling capacity, says Brisbane Airport Corporation’s Runway Project Director Paul Coughlan.

“One thing airlines hate is having aircraft circling or waiting on the ground and all that circling over the Sunshine and Gold Coast, it all disappears,” Coughlan told AAP.

The runway is 3.3km (2 miles) long and has been strategically placed to allow the future addition of a domestic passenger terminal.

The new runway will be used by planes departing to, or arriving from, destinations to the north and west of Brisbane, both domestically and internationally, such as Cairns, Darwin and Townsville or Europe, Asia and the Middle-East.

By Darren Cartwright