Stephen Byron, Managing Director of the Canberra International Airport, in the entrance atrium. Click for more photos

Canberra International Airport

Stephen Byron, Managing Director of the Canberra International Airport, in the entrance atrium. Photo: Graham Tidy

  • Stephen Byron, Managing Director of the Canberra International Airport, in the entrance atrium.
  • The entrance atrium.
  • The last remaining evidence of the old terminal, still in place.
  • Progress of the yet to be completed second stage of the Canberra International Airport.
  • Progress of the yet to be completed second stage of the Canberra International Airport.
  • The entrance atrium.
  • The entrance atrium.
  • Stephen Byron, Managing Director of the Canberra International Airport, in the entrance atrium.

Space and light will be the first impressions for people arriving at the new $420 million Canberra Airport terminal as they enter a three-storey glass atrium now rapidly taking shape.

As passengers pass a water feature they will be bathed in light in what will be the terminal's crowning piece of architecture.

Airport managing director Stephen Byron said work was on track for a March opening, although finishing touches would not be rushed. ''It's got that Canberra feel about it, of being a nationally significant building,'' he said.

The terminal's capacity will increase from 8 million to 12 million passengers annually as demand rises.

As the atrium takes shape black dots are being incorporated in the unique glass structure that will soften the harshness of the sun, while retaining natural light. ''When sunlight is on you it won't feel like sunlight,'' Mr Byron said

The airport construction has been scheduled to avoid disrupting flights, with the southern concourse completed and a new international section being added to the western concourse.The stage one transition included the complicated switching over of more than 44 pieces of information technology.

The last sections of the old terminal will not be demolished until after the new terminal is opened during Canberra's Centenary celebrations.

When the southern concourse was opened one of the last passengers through the old building was former prime minister Kevin Rudd, who had arrived from Brisbane.

Demolition of what remains of the old terminal is expected to take two months and will be followed by building a new apron, which is expected to be completed by December 2013.