Australia: 2013 Australasian Airports Real Estate Conference overview

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Auckland International Airport hosted the 2013 Australasian Airports Real Estate Conference across 6 and 7 June organised by the Airports Group that was attended by over 60 delegates from major airports in both Australia and New Zealand. Rechelle Brost, partner in our Construction and Engineering Team in Brisbane and Tom Young, partner in our Property Team in Brisbane, attended the Conference at which a variety of presentations were given, including by Rechelle and Tom, all focused on airport development.

Brisbane Airport Corporation and Auckland International Airport Limited both gave insightful presentations regarding the history and growth of each airport and their development plans for the future. These presentations highlighted the differing visions of each Airport with Brisbane Airport Corporation describing part of its vision as to become a "vibrant centre for innovation, recreation and an internationally recognised model of sustainable development" and Auckland describing its property strategy as one focussed on "transformation", aiming to change the current perception of the airport and creating development momentum.

Sydney Airport Corporation and Accor both gave timely presentations relating to hotel development. Sydney Airport Corporation's presentation related to its specific experiences with "on-airport" hotel development, its deal strategy and the lessons it has learnt. Accor was able to provide the conference with an overview of the Australasian hotel market and the key considerations and investment options relating to airport hotel development such as hotel demand from passengers, existing hotel supply off airport and the type of guests likely to demand hotel accommodation.

A number of other airport entities presented on some more specific topics including a presentation by North Queensland Airport Group on the key emerging issues in strategic airport planning, including the rise in Asian consumers and increase in global jet travel driven by Asia, and the plan to capture a market share of this new wave of global affluence. The Airport Group presented on the design requirements developed and enforced by CASA that must be considered and complied with when developing an aerodrome to ensure its physical requirements all meet certain minimum standards, a topic no doubt of interest to Wellcamp, currently developing the first greenfield airport in 47 years at Toowoomba. Tom Young, together with representatives from Jandakot Airport and Adelaide Airport, participated in a panel discussion regarding the calculation of council rates and airport land.

In addition to the presentations given by various airport entities, there were a number of academic discussions regarding current research needs and emerging trends in relation to airport development.

Finally, in relation to the construction of developments, Rechelle Brost presented on the various procurement methods available to developers to deliver projects, the advantages and disadvantages of each and the importance of understanding the developer's goals and resources when choosing the right procurement method for the project.

Overall the Conference was a great success, fostering discussion and knowledge sharing on a variety of topical issues. Norton Rose Fulbright has for many years recognised the importance of lawyers understanding the commercial drivers of property development at Airports and has been a major sponsor of the Conference. If you would like more information regarding any of the topics presented or you have any other queries, please do not hesitate to contact either Rechelle Brost or Tom Young.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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