Virgin attacks airport delays
John Borghetti. File picture: The West Australian

Virgin Australia has criticised Perth Airport over mounting delays to the carrier's showpiece terminal, claiming the problems are damaging the airline and WA's economy.

The airline has been told that the Virgin Pier, being built next to the International Terminal and first promised to open next month, has now been delayed for a second time to late January. Virgin Australia chief executive John Borghetti told The West Australian the terminal delay was "costing the airline money".

"This terminal is the centrepiece of our commitment to WA," Mr Borghetti said.

"The first route we put our new A330s on was Perth and we have invested hundreds of millions in new planes and services.

"Virgin Australia's transformation experience in the air, with the first-class facilities, is not matched by the current terminal." Virgin has been forced to operate out of two terminals on opposite sides of the airport since March last year, creating problems for passengers transferring between flights.

Perth Airport chief executive Brad Geatches said the delay was regrettable.

"However, the project is a large and complex one being integrated into the existing terminal facility," he said.

The airport also points the finger at Virgin, claiming its "repeated failure to meet its own deadlines to advise Perth Airport of the check-in system and design it wants in the new building, which it is still yet to do" is affecting the project.

Virgin rejected the claim.

"The delay is in the construction not the fit out and we have simply used that delay to install a more advanced check-in system," a spokeswoman said.

Virgin wants to make the terminal the showpiece for its network and is frustrated with delays.

Former Australian Competition and Consumer Commission commissioner Joe Dimasi warned last year that airports were "leaving investment in infrastructure to the very last minute".

The Virgin Pier is part of a $750 million investment from Perth Airport Pty Ltd in new and upgraded terminals that started in 2011.

It includes a new low-cost terminal, extensions to the International Terminal and building the Virgin Pier.

The West Australian

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