Perth Airport Starts Closing Under Its Utilized Terminals

Perth Airport is temporarily closing terminals as low passenger numbers put the airport under financial pressure. The airport has confirmed it will close T1 Domestic with all Virgin Australia services relocating next door to Terminal 2. On the other side of the airport, Terminal 3 will only be open Monday to Friday between 3.30 am and 8.00 am.

Virgin Australia Perth flight to operate from Terminal 2

The T1 Virgin Australia terminal will close this weekend, with Terminal 3 reverting to its scaled back hours from Monday, February 7. Perth Airport is shunting Virgin Australia services next door to the far less salubrious and considerably smaller Terminal 2.


“With passenger numbers remaining low, Perth Airport is taking a number of sensible and responsible steps to reduce operational costs. This unfortunately includes temporarily closing terminals,” a spokesperson for Perth Airport post online.

Instead of closing terminals, Perth Airport should be gearing up for a bumper weekend. Western Australia was due to reopen its borders to interstate travelers this weekend. However, the Western Australia Government recently walked away from that commitment.

In January, Simple Flying reported that Australia’s big domestic carriers had flights from multiple east coast cities scheduled to land in Perth within minutes of the midnight border reopening. Those flights have since vanished from the schedules.

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Perth Airport only opened the flashy Terminal 1 Domestic in 2015. Photo: Virgin Australia

Lean times for Perth Airport

There is a constant thump of full flights landing in Perth from interstate in normal times. In January, just 4,000 interstate passengers passed through Perth Airport. Last year, Perth Airport posted its first ever loss – US$46 million.

In 2019, the last year of clear air for Perth Airport, 14,809,950 passengers passed through the airport. Last year 5,967,974 passengers moved through the airport. However, the vast majority were intrastate and fly-in-fly-out passengers.

Privately owned Perth Airport says its shareholders cannot be expected to keep sustaining losses to keep the under-utilized airport fully operational.

“Despite some huge financial losses, we’ve done the right thing by WA by keeping our runways and terminals operational,” Perth Airport CEO Kevin Brown said.

Terminal 1 Domestic only opened in 2015 and is a dedicated Virgin Australia terminal. This coincided with the airline making significant inroads into the Australian transcontinental airline market – primarily off the back of their now long gone A330 widebody aircraft that gave rival Qantas some serious competition. Virgin Australia also upped its game competing with Qantas on the Western Australia intrastate and fly-in-fly-out markets.

These days, aside from its roster of intrastate flights, Virgin Australia is lucky to push back two flights a day heading to the east coast cities. Things are not much brighter across the airport at the Qantas and Jetstar terminals.


The lights will soon be switched off at Perth Airport’s T1 Domestic Terminal. Photo: Virgin Australia

No word on reopening date

Last year, Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan told Qantas CEO Alan Joyce that he could rely on the Western Australia Government sticking to his word when it came to border reopenings. McGowan recently went back on that promise and the Qantas boss is unimpressed.

Even my chairman (Richard Goyder) is saying – he’s based in Western Australia – he’s having to leave the state because it’s impossible to do business, to run big businesses, to be involved in the governance of a business like Qantas and with a state that is completely closed down,” Mr Joyce said this week.

Unfortunately for Perth Airport, it cannot pack up and leave town as easily as My Goyder. There is no word on when Western Australia might start letting people (including its own residents stranded outside the state) enter.


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