Australia: Opening An Airport Premises In Queensland?

Are you weighing up opening a new airport premises or taking over an existing one? If so, then it is worthwhile considering the options available when selling alcohol from the premises. For example, will you have table service? Will you have take away liquor sales? And, perhaps more importantly, do you wish to be open for trade whenever an aeroplane touches down or takes off, no matter what time of day or night?

"What type of licence is most suitable for my business?"

There are currently 8 categories of liquor licences which may be granted under the Liquor Act 1992 QLD, although the types of licences generally preferred at airports are On-Premises (Other Activity) licences and Special Facility licences. Since the enactment of the Liquor and Other Acts Amendment Act 2008, On-Premises (Other Activities) licences will become "Commercial-other" licences from 1 January 2009. Special facility licences will remain as a licence category (a "Commercial – special facility licence"), however they will be more difficult to obtain.

All applications for licences lodged before 1 January 2009 will be processed under the unamended Liquor Act. After 1 January 2009, licences will automatically be converted (to a Commercial-other or Commercial-Special Facility). The features of On-Premises (Other Activities) and Special Facility Licences are as follows:

On-Premises (Other Activity) licences

Available for activities approved by the Chief Executive of the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) which do not fall within the standard categories of On-Premises licence, such as nightclubs or restaurants. An Airport premises is an example of this exception.

Trading conditions are determined by the OLGR after considering the nature of the business with the standard trading conditions imposed usually being:

  • Trading hours set between 10am and midnight, daily.
  • On Good Friday, Christmas Day and Anzac Day, alcohol must be served with a meal.
  • Liquor is to be sold for consumption in defined areas on the premises.1
  • The licensee may (if agreed by the Chief Executive of the OLGR), sell liquor to persons genuinely attending a function relating to the activity stated in the licence.2

Additional privileges may also be sought such as extended hours trading and permits to cater for on-siteand off-site functions, however these must be made under separate applications to the OLGR.

Special Facility Licences

In the past, Special Facility licences were predominantused for major cultural and sporting facilities. Special Facility licences have become more and more popular for businesses operating in Queensland airports. This islargely due to the fact that, under the Airports Act 1996(Cth), operators who held authorisations to sell liquor from the Commonwealth Government before airports were privatised were deemed to hold Special Facility licences after privatisation. Special Facility licences othe trading flexibility airport operator's need, and this was recognised in the privatisation process. Many new operators have also applied for Special Facility licento obtain the trading flexibility they require for their airport operations.

These licences are available if the operator can shothat the granting of the licence would facilitate thedevelopment of the tourist, liquor and hospitality industries of the State. Given the nature of your business and that airports facilitate the movement of aircraft, which boosts tourism; this primary purposebe established by a properly deafted liquor licence application.

Trading conditions are determined by the OLGR after considering the nature of the business with the standard trading conditions imposed usually being:

  • Trading hours will be determined according to thenature of the business, however Special Facility licences can allow for 24 hour trading, daily.
  • On Good Friday, Christmas Day and Anzac Day, alcohol must be served with a meal.
  • Liquor can be sold to the general public for consumption on the premises during the specified trading hours.
  • If specified in the licence, liquor may be sold to the general public for consumption off the premises.3

On-Premises (Other Activity licences vs Special Facility licences

If you wish to trade outside of the conditions likely to bimposed by an On-Premises (Other Activity) licence, then applying for a Special Facility licence should be considered. The following two issues are the ones you should consider most carefully:

Trading hours

If you wish to serve alcohol in the hours before 10am and/or after midnight and you apply for an On-Premis(Other Activity) licence, be aware that you must alsomake a separate application to extend your trading hours. Also be aware that there is no guarantee tpermit will be granted. From 1 January 2009, all extended hours permits for early morning trade will lapse. Applications for trading between 9am and 10am will need to show a demonstrated community need (e.gto accommodate shift workers at an airport). Trading between 7am and 9am will only be allowed for bona fide functions where a meal is served (e.g. a champagne breakfast).

Alternatively, a Special Facility licence offers the flexibility of 24 hour trading, with the hours able to be chosen at the time the application is lodged. Not only will this enable your business to capture airport patrons arriving, departing or just saying ciao (irrespective of the arrival or departure time), it will also save time during the all important start up period and will therefore be a more cost effective alternative for you. Critically, after 1 January 2009 special facility licences for airport and Casino premises are the only type of licences permitted to trade 24 hours. From 1 January 2009, licensees must pay annual licence fees which will be based in part on trading hours. Airport special facility licence holders will pay an annual licence fee of $27,500 to trade 24 hours.


Will you be subletting your premises? Subletting all or part of a licensed area is not permitted under an On-Premises (Other Activity) licence,4 however, it is permitted (subject to the Chief Executive's approval) under a Special Facility licence.5

Subject to the Chief Executive's approval, you may sublet all or part of your premises to a new sub-tenant thereby enabling them to immediately commence trading, including the sale of liquor under the authority of your existing Special Facility licence.

This will save your sub-tenant the time and expense of applying for its own liquor licence and will therefore make your sub-tenancy more competitive, desirable and attractive to any prospective trader. The value of your own tenancy will also increase for the same reasons! The ability to sublet under a special facility licence will continue after 1 January 2009.

Are you considering opening a premises?

If you are contemplating opening a new premises or taking over an existing one that will be the subject of a liquor licence, please contact us for more information on the most effective liquor licensing structure for your business. The changes to the Liquor Act commencing on 1 January 2009 add another layer of considerations that we can assist you with, for example, annual fees and the merits of applying before or after 1 January 2009.

We will ensure your licensing structure is best suited to your business.



2. Section 81 Liquor Act 1992 (Qld).


4. Section 149 Liquor Act 1992 (Qld).

5. Section 153 Liquor Act 1992 (Qld).

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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