Finishing touches are being put on Canberra's new airport terminal. Photo: Melissa Adams
Canberra Airport's $420 million new terminal will be unveiled on Wednesday, with plenty of extra capacity for travellers avoiding Sydney Kingsford Smith's congestion woes.
Stage two, including the main entrance atrium, Virgin terminal and business-class lounge will be opened.
Two-thirds of the taxi rank will be inside the terminal, putting an end to Canberra's notoriety for frosty queues on arrival during fierce winters.
Canberra Airport's new terminal
Official opening of the Western Concourse Terminal, incorporating Virgin arrivals, departures and VIP Lounge at the Canberra International Airport by Federal Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese. Photo: Graham Tidy
One of the best views from floor-to-ceiling glass on the lounge level extends to foothills in the west and the Brindabella Mountains.
Airport managing director Stephen Byron said the design was not entirely about architecture, but also about a natural way of finding things, with people arriving by road seeing the terminal's entrance, places to park and where to exit without having to go searching.
Once inside they will go through a spacious security checking area rather than peeling off and being corralled through tightly confined walkways.
While the last pieces of the old terminal will continue to be dismantled in coming weeks, eight out of 10 airbridges in the new development are about to open.
Work will also continue for the remainder of this year on apron upgrades and international facilities, which will open when airlines decide on direct flights to and from Canberra.
Designed to cater for 10 million passengers annually, and ultimately 12 million passengers, the new airport will provide vast open areas beyond the original design because of new technology that is reducing check-in queues.
The airport's additional capacity will sit empty for years, while Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport passenger movements are forecast to rise to 50.6 million and 369,000 aircraft movements by 2020.
Councils and business groups in Sydney's western suburbs are ramping up a push for Badgerys Creek as a second airport option for jobs and flow-on of economic benefits.
Mr Byron said Badgerys Creek was the logical choice, but didn't expect either the government or opposition to make a decision in this election year.
He said a growing number of travellers would soon see for themselves more of what Canberra offered.
They would use Canberra as a hub to connect with other flights. For example, people travelling from Hobart to Brisbane would hub through Canberra, rather than Sydney.
A decision is expected on Thursday from the competition regulator about whether to approve Virgin's bid to take a controlling stake in Tiger Australia.
If approved Virgin would have its own dual-brand strategy to counter Qantas and its budget offshoot, Jetstar.