International Terminal Upgrade Update

Cairns Airport’s international terminal is being redeveloped. It is the first major upgrade of the building since it opened more than 30 years ago. Works will be rolled out in stages to minimise passenger disruption.

The terminal will be transformed into a contemporary space that reflects the dynamic atmosphere of Far 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: Preliminary Stage 1 work begins
  • April 2023: Carpet removed, tile installation begins
  • Mid-2024: Completion of Stage 1 (refurbishment of check-in and arrivals areas, including new escalators, elevators, bathrooms, paint, artworks, and furnishings. Installation of four new, glass airbridges)
  • Mid-2024: Commencement of Stage 2 (overhaul of arrivals facilities, including new baggage reclaim belts, and expansion to increase capacity)
  • Mid-2025: Commencement of Stage 3 (upgrade of departures area, with new layout and seating spaces)


  • Design elements have been selected to reflect each of Far North Queensland’s rich landscapes, from the rainforest to the reef, coast and mangroves, highlighting Traditional Custodians’ connection to country
  • Key sustainability initiatives will be incorporated to reduce environmental impact, including mechanisms to minimise water use and waste, and increase energy efficiency
  • Local suppliers and Indigenous-owned businesses will be 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, Bali, Auckland and Port Moresby
  • The international terminal was officially opened by Premier Wayne Goss in September 1990
  • The upgrade will cost $40-$50 million
  • The initial construction phase is expected to generate up to 100 jobs


Images by studiospillane