Perth Airport’s $5B Facelift: Is Mass Timber Set for Takeoff?

The redevelopment will see Perth become Australia's second-largest airport, anchoring Qantas's long-haul flights to Europe.

Tue 04 Jun 24


Perth is getting a new airport hub, with Qantas—Australia’s national carrier—and Perth Airport yesterday revealing plans for an AU $5 billion-plus airport precinct. The new airport will include two multi-storey car parking facilities, a hotel—a first for the airport—major roadworks, and a new engineering hanger for all Qantas and Jetstar planes.

According to Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson, the deal—which will see the carrier contribute $3 billion in a private finance funding deal with Perth Airport—”is the largest infrastructure deal in (Qantas) history,” with Perth to become the airline’s second-largest hub in Australia. As a result, “it will enable us to create a world-class Western hub and significantly expand domestic and international services “in the short, medium, and long term.”

Perth Airport CEO Jason Waters said the deal will “unlock the future” for both the airport and Qantas, with the Flying Kangaroo putting forward “ambitious growth plans” for its Perth operations: “Western Australians will now see the largest-ever private investment in an infrastructure development in Perth – a once-in-a-lifetime investment program that will completely change the face of Perth Airport over the next decade.”

The new deal comes after Wood Central revealed that the Brisbane Airport – also undergoing a $5 billion-plus redevelopment of its domestic terminals, is looking to use mass timber, recycled concrete and green steel as part of its third terminal. The new terminal, to be constructed “sometime in the early 2030s,” will be positioned between the two runways to maximise connectivity, with airport executives confirming that it will be “built with inclusive and sustainable design.”

Could Perth’s new airport incorporate mass timber in its design?

Globally, airports are embracing mass timber construction to meet the needs of modern aviation – with airports and airlines are quick to switch out traditional concrete-and-steel building systems for timber-hybrid systems, which are both lighter and faster to construct.

Mass timber is now used to build large buildings, like high-rises and airports. Last month, CBS on Saturday’s Jeff Glor travelled to Oregon to understand more about the material, its safety, and whether it’s sustainable to use long-term – footage courtesy of @CBSNews.

Led by Portland’s PDX Airport—which is now finishing a US $125 million, 392,000 square foot mass timber roof—airports and airlines in America, Canada, Brazil, the Czech Republic, and even New Zealand are at the forefront of a new wave of greener projects that have “built-in” flexibility to adjust to expansion and contraction as airport needs change.

This level of adaptability is crucial as services change over time, according to MVRDV’s founding partner, Winy Maas, who secured the commission to design Prague’s new US $1 billion airport last year – dubbed the Three Czech Lantens.

The first stage, expected to break ground next year, will involve a hybrid construction system “with concrete, steel and timber in equal measure.” It will use glue-laminated timber joints to support lightweight hollow concrete floors, “key to reducing the structure’s embodied carbon.”

The design uses “a table-like, hybrid structural approach based on four supporting cores and large uninterrupted spans forming the flexible base for the new buildings.”

What next for the Perth Airport?

If all goes according to plan, the terminal is expected to open in 2031. In the meantime, Perth Airport is investing in upgrades to current Qantas Terminals 3 and 4 to add capacity.

The new works will see Jetstar move to Terminal 2 in September this year, while Qantas says the Terminal 3 and 4 upgrades will allow it to add more destinations from Perth, including Auckland and Johannesburg, next year.

Wood Central understands that more information, including tender information and material specifications, is expected later this year.


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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