International Airports

International airports are airports designated by the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development as international airports in accordance with section 9 of the Air Navigation Act 1920. View the list of current designated international airports in Australia.


International Airport Categories

The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, in consultation with Australian Customs, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, and Airservices Australia, categorises each designated international airport according to the facilities available.

The categories of airports are:

  • Major International
    airports of entry and departure where all formalities incident to Customs, Immigration, Health and similar procedures are carried out, and which are open to scheduled and non-scheduled flights;
  • Restricted Use International
    airports of entry and departure at which the formalities incident to Customs, Immigration, Health and similar procedures are made available on a restricted basis, to flights with prior approval only;
  • Alternate International
    airports specified in the flight plan to which a flight may proceed when it becomes inadvisable to land at the airport of intended landing;
  • International Non-Scheduled Flight
    airports at which approval may be granted, provided the prescribed prior notice is given, for international non-scheduled flights only; no other form of international operation is permitted;
  • External Territory International
    airports of entry and departure for international air traffic located upon an Australian External Territory, where all formalities incident to Customs, Immigration, Health and similar procedures are available.

Full details, including any special conditions that may apply to individual airports, are published in the Australian Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP).

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International Airport Operator's Guide

The International Airport Operator's Guide has been developed to provide existing and future Australian international airport operators with information on infrastructure and accommodation arrangements and facilities required by border and border related agencies necessary for them to carry out regulatory passenger processing and border protection functions as determined by the Australian Government.

This Guide provides information and advice on accommodation and infrastructure requirements for (a) existing international airport operators in relation to day to day agency requirements and for the purposes of planning refurbishment or redevelopment of airport terminals; and (b) airport operators planning to process regular international flights.

The Border Agencies' Accommodation Group is responsible for managing and maintaining the Guide and any comments or enquiries should be directed to the document controller:

National Director
Passengers Division
Australian Customs Service
5 Constitution Avenue
Canberra ACT 2601

A copy of the Guide can be found at www.customs.gov.au/site/page6025.asp

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Provision of Government Services at International Airports

The Australian Government has agreed on a set of principles to be used when considering the provision of Government services at new Australian international airports, which were announced in the Aviation White Paper released in December 2009. When an Australian airport applies to be designated as an international airport the assessment of the application will be conducted in accordance with six principles:

  • Principle 1
    New airports should be developed in alignment with the national interest including economic benefits and the Government's regional development, border security, air services and tourism policies.
  • Principle 2
    New international airport proponents provide the Commonwealth with an evidence-based business case to demonstrate viability.
  • Principle 3
    Proponents not face unreasonable barriers to entry into the market.
  • Principle 4
    The establishment of a new international airport should not of itself produce a diminution of Commonwealth service standards at existing airports.
  • Principle 5
    New international airport proponents pay for infrastructure and capital start up costs consistent with the ‘Guide to Airport Operators’.
  • Principle 6
    The approval process for new Australian international airports be efficient, equitable and transparent.

A detailed version of the Principles and Guidelines to assess the provision of Government services at new Australian international airports is available for download PDF: 49 KB ReadSpeaker

Please note, the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development is undertaking a consultation process to review the Principles and Guidelines to assess the provision of Government services at new Australian international airports. All interested stakeholders are invited to submit their views and feedback on the issues paper prepared by the Department.

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Approval Process for New International Airports

Airport operators seeking to change the international status of their airport may apply to the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. Proposals from airport operators which need to be considered include:

  • proposed designation as an international airport for the first time (i.e. a new international airport);
  • changes in international airport category (which may require a change in the level of border agency services);
  • significant changes in the level of border agency services at an airport (which may or may not involve a change of category).

The approval process consists of an initial national interest consideration, followed by, where necessary, a detailed consideration of the scope of government services required for the operation of an international airport.

National Interest Consideration

When a proposal is submitted, the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development will work with the Department of Resources, Energy & Tourism and the Australian Customs & Border Protection Service in considering whether the proposal is in line with the national interest.

This consideration will take into account issues relating to tourism policies, regulatory requirements for international aviation and economic and regional development benefits.

Provision of Government Services Consideration

If the proposal is considered to be in the national interest, it will be submitted to the National Passenger Processing Committee for evaluation of the implications for border agencies and policing services.

In cases where the National Passenger Processing Committee advises that the proposed operation of the international airport can be adequately serviced within existing government resources, the proposal will be approved by the Minister of Infrastructure and Regional Development. The Minister will then designate the airport as an international airport or alter the international categorisation of the airport as required.

A guide to the provision of Government services at new international airports in Australia is available for download PDF: 49 KB ReadSpeaker

Further enquiries may be directed to:

General Manager
Aviation Industry Policy Branch
Aviation and Airports Division
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development
Telephone: (02) 6274 7739
Fax: (02) 6274 6749

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Last Updated: 14 November, 2014