Darwin International Airport (DIA) has published its approved 2017 Master Plan which will guide the airport for the next 20 years.

The plan’s release, follows approval from  Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester, on 6 September 2017.

A statutory requirement, the Master Plan is prepared every five years as outlined in the Commonwealth Airports Act 1996.

The 20-year Master Plan provides the strategic framework to guide the airport’s development to 2037, addressing operational, economic, commercial, social and environmental aspects.

Master Plans are prepared by all of Australia’s major airports to provide stakeholders and the community with a guide to their long-term growth and development.

The Master Plan includes the five-year Airport Environment Strategy.

Commercial and aviation activities at Darwin Airport contribute $270 million a year to Gross State Product (GSP), which equates to 1.2 per cent of the Northern Territory’s GSP.

It is expected during the period of the Master Plan that the contribution to GSP could double.

Darwin International Airport CEO, Ian Kew, said the Master Plan gives the organisation the direction it needs to keep delivering economic and social benefits to the top end.

“The airport is a key economic contributor for the region,” he said.

“Airport activities currently supports 1800 workers, which is 1.3 per cent of the Territory’s workforce.

“We anticipate that over the next twenty years the number of passengers passing through Darwin Airport each year could increase from 2.2 million to six million.

“Given the anticipated increase in passenger numbers, the number of jobs supported by airport businesses could rise to 3000 by 2037.”

The Master Plan is drafted following consultation with key community, business and government stakeholders, and its approval is subject to public comment and review by the Australian Government.

Key Features:

DIA 2017 Master Plan

Aviation Activity

It’s anticipated that by 2037 the number of annual passenger movements at DIA will increase from 2.2 million to six million. Airline and general aviation aircraft movements will grow from 74,000 to more than 100,000 movements a year.

Social, Economic and Regional Significance

DIA is an aviation gateway to Australia and Asia, and key to an integrated transport network that covers road, rail, sea and air. Its busy general aviation facilities provide vital links for passengers and freight services, aeromedical and essential services serving remote communities across northern Australia.

The airport currently supports 1800 workers, equating to 1.3 per cent of the Territory’s workforce, and contributes $270 million to the Northern Territory’s Gross State Product (GSP).

By 2037, the number of jobs supported by airport businesses is anticipated to rise to 3000 and contributions to GSP to double.


Airport operations prioritise safe, efficient aviation activities that meet diverse customer demands, and provide a good passenger experience while complying with aviation regulations.

No runway extensions are required over the planning period for civil aviation purposes.

Taxiway system enhancements will likely be needed to support the increase in airline and general aviation traffic over the planning period of the Master Plan.

The timing of terminal growth beyond 2017 will depend on demand, and will be accommodated by expanding the terminal building.

Airport Land Use

Land use planning is fundamental to an airport master plan and is highlighted in the Airports Act 1996. DIA’s 2017 Master Plan:

  • Ensures there is adequate land for expanding aviation activity
  • Clearly separates aeronautical and non-aeronautical uses
  • Has been developed in alignment with the NT Planning Scheme
  • Provides a considerable amount of land for conservation reserves.

Commercial Development

The airport lease covers 311 hectares, with about 80 hectares (26 per cent) available for non aeronautical commercial development.

This includes Darwin Airport Central, the first integrated and planned commercial, entertainment and lifestyle precinct of its kind in the Northern Territory.

Development Objectives

DIA has established a range of development objectives to guide its planning, including building the airport’s contribution to the economic growth of the Territory; ensuring a long-term view to ensure an optimal mix of uses; and integrating environmental considerations into all development.

Airport Environment Strategy

The Airport Environment Strategy is Appendix 1 to the 2017 Master Plan.

The key objectives of the AES are to demonstrate compliance with all relevant standards and legislation, and guide continual improvement in the environmental management at the airport.

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1 Comment
  1. Peter Clee 6 years ago

    We should consider renaming to Darwin Airport.

    It is difficult to argue that it is still an international airport with only one or two flights a day on only 3 carriers Silkair, Jetstar and Air North (although air north does not seem to be accepting online bookings to Timor currently)

    Air Asia and Philippine Airlines have recently joined the long list of international carriers pulling out of international travel from Darwin (Tiger, Garuda, Cebu, Royal Brunei) even Qantas does not operate internationally out of Darwin any more.

    We need to ask these questions of the Darwin Airport management.

    Darwin Airport need to justify why they are overcharging for landing fees, and not encouraging international airlines to come into Darwin.

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