Then and now: Canberra Airport, 20 years after privatisation
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Then and now: Canberra Airport, 20 years after privatisation

When local businessman Terry Snow and Capital Airport Group took control of Canberra Airport in 1998, it was run down and in need of a makeover.

Twenty years and $2 billion later, and the airport is unrecognisable in aerial photos comparing then and now.

After a $2 billion investment over 20 years, Canberra Airport is unrecognisable in 2018.

After a $2 billion investment over 20 years, Canberra Airport is unrecognisable in 2018.

Photo: Ginette Snow

The biggest changes came between 2009 and 2014, when the $500 million "Airvolution" redevelopment delivered upgrades including the construction of an international terminal, which offers flights to Doha, Singapore and Wellington.

The largest private sector investment in ACT history also tripled the number of check-in counters in the terminal precinct and quadrupled the size of the baggage handling system.

Canberra Airport from above in 1998.

Canberra Airport from above in 1998.

Photo: Supplied
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On the 20th anniversary of his announcement as the successful bidder for the airport, Mr Snow called it "the best little airport in the world".

"Twenty years ago, we were determined to build the best little airport in the world, and this has been the completion of our dream," he said.

"We have spent $2 billion to realise this ambition in commercial infrastructure, and an airport designed to handle 12 million passengers."

The airport has also revamped its open day, which will this year be held on Sunday, April 8.

While it remains free, attendees had to, for the first time, secure tickets, booked through Eventbrite.

A spokeswoman for the Canberra Airport said the open day was fully booked, with more than 20,000 free tickets all snapped up.

But the airport was hoping to release a few more tickets through its Facebook page on Sunday morning for Sunday afternoon entry.

The day includes aerial displays from Australia's number one aviator, Matt Hall, a former RAAF fighter combat instructor who later became the first rookie to finish a Red Bull Air Race, and an entire season, on the podium.

There will also be children's rides, food, entertainment, and a chance to get hands-on inside planes and helicopters from different eras.Boeing 737s, Cessna 172s, Piper Warriors and Tomahawk II aircraft will be among those on display.

A free park-and-ride bus service at the City Bus Station and Russell will take people to and from the airport for the event, which runs from 9am-3pm.

With this year's open day to be held in the airfield, people are being reminded not to bring anything that wouldn't be allowed on a domestic flight.

Blake Foden is a reporter at The Canberra Times. He has worked as a journalist in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, and joined the Times in March 2018.

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