International Terminal Upgrade Update

Cairns Airport’s international terminal is undergoing a $55 million redevelopment. It is the first major upgrade of the building since it opened more than 30 years ago. Works are being rolled out in stages to minimise passenger disruption. 

The terminal will be transformed into a contemporary space that reflects the dynamic atmosphere of Tropical North Queensland, from the moment visitors arrive. It will be a space that locals can be proud of, using materials, imagery and design elements that showcase our unique environment and cultural values. 


  • March 2023: Stage 1 began 
  • Mid-2024: Stage 1 completed. This included: 
    • Transformation of the check-in and arrivals halls, including new elevators and escalators, upgraded bathrooms and parent rooms, modern furniture, fresh tiled floors and replacement of all check-in counters. 

    • Installation of four new airconditioned glass airbridges, which offer travellers a panoramic view of our mountains and waterways as soon as they land. 

    • Tropical welcome inside, with a range of native and local plants selected to complement the upgrade. 

  • Mid-2024: Commencement of Stage 2 and Stage 3  
    • Stage 2 includes: Overhaul of arrivals facilities, including new baggage reclaim belts, expansion to increase capacity and remodelled amenities 

    • Stage 3 includes: Upgrade of departures area, with new layout and seating spaces 

  • End 2025: Project is due for completion  


  • Design elements have been selected to reflect each of Tropical North Queensland’s rich landscapes, from the rainforest to the reef, coast and mangroves, highlighting Traditional Custodians’ connection to country 

  • Key sustainability initiatives are being incorporated to reduce environmental impact, including mechanisms to minimise water use and waste, and increase energy efficiency 

  • Local suppliers have been prioritised for sourcing of materials such as stone, native timber, textiles, art and furniture 


  • Cairns Airport is one of Australia’s leading regional airports, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and tropical rainforests of North Queensland. 

  • It is Australia’s seventh busiest for international passengers with direct flights from Tokyo, Osaka, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Bali, Auckland, Christchurch, and Port Moresby 

  • The international terminal was officially opened by Premier Wayne Goss in September 1990 

  • The international terminal upgrade will cost approximately $55 million 


Images by studiospillane