Darwin International Airport

Darwin International Airport
Darwin International Airport
Darwin 6398.jpg
Darwin International Airport terminal
DRW is located in Northern Territory
Location of airport in Northern Territory
Airport type Military/Public
Operator Northern Territory Airports[1] / RAAF Darwin
Serves Darwin, Northern Territory
Location Marrara, Northern Territory
Elevation AMSL 103 ft / 31 m
Coordinates 12°24′53″S 130°52′36″E / 12.41472°S 130.87667°E / -12.41472; 130.87667Coordinates: 12°24′53″S 130°52′36″E / 12.41472°S 130.87667°E / -12.41472; 130.87667
Website Darwin International Airport
Direction Length Surface
ft m
11/29 11,004 3,354 Asphalt
18/36 5,000 1,524 Asphalt
Statistics (2007)
Total Passengers 1,569,007
Source: List of the busiest airports in Australia, NTArports Annual Report 2007 – 2008[2]
Opening of the new airport terminal in December 1991

Darwin International Airport (IATA: DRWICAO: YPDN) is the busiest airport serving the Northern Territory and the tenth busiest airport in Australia. It is the only airport serving Darwin.

The Airport is located in Darwin, Northern Territory's northern suburbs, 13 kilometres from the Darwin city centre, in the suburb of Marrara. It shares runways with the Royal Australian Air Force's RAAF Base Darwin.

Darwin Airport has an international terminal, a domestic terminal and a cargo terminal. Both of the passenger terminals have a number of shops and cafeterias.

The airport serves over 56,000 flights and 1,813,000 passengers per year.[3]



In 1919, when the England to Australia air race was announced, Darwin Airport was established in the suburb of Parap to act as the Australian Terminal.[4] It operated as two airports, a civilian airport and a military field.

It frequently took hits from Japanese bombing through the Second World War, and was used by the Allies to project air power into the Pacific. The airport hosted Spitfires, Hudson Bombers, Kittyhawks, C-47s, B-24 Liberators, B-17 Fortresses and PBY Catalinas.[5]

In 1945 the Department of Aviation made the existing Darwin military airfield available for civil aviation purpose. As a result, the civilian airport at Parap was closed down and airport operations combined with the military airport.[4]

Between 1950 and 1974 Darwin Airport acted as the primary domestic and international airport for the Northern Territory and a very important stop for airlines flying between Australia, Asia and onwards to Europe. UTA,[6] BOAC,[7] Alitalia[8] and Air India[9] were some airlines that had scheduled services to Darwin. However the introduction of longer range aircraft in the 1970s meant that many airlines did not need to stopover in Darwin, and chose to cease services.

Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin in 1974 and flattened the city. The airport was used to ferry 25,628 people out of Darwin. Darwin Airport was extensively used to assist UN operations in East Timor from 1999, and to support medical evacuations following the 2002 Bali bombings.

The new passenger terminal, with four aerobridges, was opened in December 1991.


Airnorth Aircraft at Darwin International Airport
Darwin International Airport tarmac

Darwin Airport has scheduled flights to destinations in the Northern Territory, around Australia and in Southeast Asia. Only one terminal is used for both domestic and international services. The terminal has several food outlets and shops, with duty-free shopping for international travellers. [10]

During 2005–06 a total of 1,440,000 passengers passed through Darwin International Airport which consisted of 334,000 international passengers and 1,106,000 domestic passengers.[11]

During the 2006–07 period there was a total of 1,654,000 passengers which consisted of 372,000 international passengers and 1,282,000 domestic passengers up 35.6 per cent.

During the 2007–08 period there was a total of 1,813,000 passengers.

The head office of Airnorth is on the airport property.[12]

Statistics for Darwin Airport
Year Total Passengers International Domestic
2001–02 1,090,000 290,000 800,000
2002–03 1,085,000 210,000 875,000
2003–04 1,182,000 197,000 985,000
2004–05 1,386,000 281,000 1,105,000
2005–06 1,440,000 334,000 1,106,000
2006–07 1,654,000 372,000 1,282,000
2007–08 1,813,000


Commercial passenger aircraft most commonly seen at Darwin International Airport include Airbus A319, A320 and A330, Boeing 717, 737 and 767, Beechcraft 1900, Fokker 100, de Havilland Canada Dash 7, Bombardier Dash 8, Embraer E170, Embraer E190 and Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia. Darwin International Airport is extensively used by a wide range of general aviation aircraft as well as military aircraft that use the adjacent RAAF Base Darwin.

Until they were withdrawn from service, Concorde made sporadic visits to Darwin as well, having one of the few runways long enough in Australia to handle them.

Future of Darwin Airport

Australian low-cost carrier, Jetstar Airways, has expressed a keen interest in developing Darwin Airport as a hub for its trips to Asia. With the close proximity to South-East Asia, Jetstar anticipates that it will be able to make flights using smaller aircraft, such as the Airbus A320 to fly anywhere within 4 to 5 hours from Darwin.[13] Most of the traffic on the routes will come from southern Australian cities. This will allow one-stop flights to less popular destinations. Destinations that have been considered include Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the Philippines and Kota Kinabalu International Airport in Malaysia. New low cost carrier Tiger Airways had also expressed interest in making Darwin Airport its second hub;[14] however, Tiger terminated its flights from Singapore to Darwin in October 2008, and for quite some time only operated domestic flights to Melbourne, however these flights have also now been terminated.

On 8 November 2007, it was announced that it had reached agreements for a $100 million home and lifestyle centre in Darwin Airports Business Park, which will be developed by retail developer Ticor Developments. The centre is being built on eight hectares of airport land at the major intersection of Bagot Road and McMillans Road and is due for completion by the end of 2009.[15]

In April 2009, Garuda Indonesia suspended the Denpasar service from Darwin after nearly 30 years of service, citing "economic reasons". The move had been protested by the Northern Territory government.[16][17] The suspension left Darwin Airport without any non-Australian carriers flying there until late 2010 when Indonesia AirAsia started service from Bali to Darwin.

The Australian Infrastructure Fund (AIX) is set to be taking a $60 million expansion of Darwin International Airport to cater for growing passenger numbers. This will provide a 65 percent increase in terminal floor space.[18]

In December 2010 the Federal Government approved the Darwin Airport Master Plan, a 20-year blueprint of how the airport will be affected by and manage issues such as aviation growth and the rise of Darwin Airport as an international transit point between Europe, Asia and Australia.[19]



Busiest Domestic Routes out of Darwin International Airport
(Year Ending October 2010)[20]
Rank Airport Passengers carried  % Change
1 Queensland Brisbane Airport 367,800 decrease3.6
2 Victoria (Australia) Melbourne Airport 280,600 increase20.0
3 Western Australia Perth Airport 149,300 increaseNA*
Busiest Domestic Routes out of Darwin International Airport
(Month of September 2010)[20]
Rank Airport Passengers carried  % Change
1 Queensland Brisbane Airport 33,300 decrease2.7
2 Victoria (Australia) Melbourne Airport 29,200 increase15.1
3 Western Australia Perth Airport 13,700 decrease3.4

*Perth route became competitive in May 2009


Busiest International Routes out of Darwin International Airport
(Year Ending June 2010)[21]
Rank Airport Passengers handled  % Change
1 Singapore Singapore Changi Airport 116,621 increase1.2
2 Indonesia Ngurah Rai International Airport 68,900 increase13.8
3 Vietnam Tan Son Nhat International Airport 22,304 increase76.5
Busiest International Routes out of Darwin International Airport
(Month Ending August 2009)[21]
Rank Airport Passengers handled  % Change
1 Singapore Singapore Changi Airport 11,150 increase118.9
2 Indonesia Ngurah Rai International Airport 6,266 increase88.3
3 Vietnam Tan Son Nhat International Airport 1,702 increase0.0

Airlines and destinations

Airlines Destinations Terminal
Airnorth Broome, Elcho Island, Gold Coast, Gove, Groote Eylandt, Karratha, Kununurra, Maningrida, McArthur River, Milingimbi, Mount Isa, Perth, Port Hedland Domestic
Airnorth Dili International
Indonesia AirAsia Denpasar/Bali International
Jetstar Airways Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney Domestic
Jetstar Airways Brisbane, Cairns, Denpasar/Bali, Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, Singapore International
Qantas Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne,[22] Perth, Sydney Domestic
Qantas operated by QantasLink Alice Springs, Cairns, Gove Domestic
Skywest Airlines Broome, Kununurra, Perth Domestic
Timor Air Dili International
Vincent Aviation Bathurst Island, Groote Eylandt, Cairns Domestic
Virgin Australia Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth Domestic

Accidents and incidents

  • On 25 December 1974, Douglas C-47B PK-RDB of Seulawah Air Services was damaged beyond economic repair by Cyclone Tracy.[23]

See also

  • United States Army Air Forces in Australia (World War II)
  • Transportation in Australia


  1. ^ "Welcome to Northern Territory Airports". Airport Development Group. http://www.ntapl.com.au/. Retrieved 16 June 2008. 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ PDF file "2007–08 Annual report". Darwin International Airport. 2007. http://www.ntairports.com.au/Portals/0/ADG%20Annual%20Report%202007-2008.pdf PDF file. Retrieved 25 March 2009. [dead link]
  4. ^ a b "History of the Qantas Hangar". Northern Territory Government. Natural Resources, Environment and The Arts. http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/heritage/visit/qantas/history.html. Retrieved 16 June 2008. 
  5. ^ Darwin Airport website[dead link]
  6. ^ "UTA timetable, 1964". http://www.timetableimages.com/ttimages/complete/ut64/ut64-01.jpg. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  7. ^ "BOAC timetable, 1964". http://www.timetableimages.com/ttimages/complete/ba62/ba62-03.jpg. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  8. ^ "Alitalia timetable, 1961". http://www.timetableimages.com/ttimages/complete/az61/az61-11.jpg. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  9. ^ "Air India website". Home.airindia.in. http://home.airindia.in/SBCMS/Webpages/Time-line-1951-1960.aspx?MID=196. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  10. ^ John Pike (27 April 2005). "Space Shuttle Emergency Landing Sites". Globalsecurity.org. http://www.globalsecurity.org/space/facility/sts-els.htm. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  11. ^ Annual 2005–06 Report[dead link]
  12. ^ "Contact us." Airnorth. Retrieved on 10 February 2011. "Administration 4 Lancaster Road MARRARA."
  13. ^ Creedy, Steve (2 August 2008). "Jetstar boosts services from Darwin airport". The Australian. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24114446-23349,00.html. Retrieved 2 September 2008. 
  14. ^ Creedy, Steve (22 December 2007). "Jetstar plan for Darwin springboard into Asia". The Australian. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,22961347-23349,00.html. Retrieved 25 June 2008. 
  15. ^ "$100 million Home Centre Development to Excite Shoppers" (PDF). Northern Territory Airports. 11 July 2008. http://www.ntapl.com.au/Portals/0/docs/Media%20Releases/DIA%20$100%20Million%20Home%20Centre%20Development%20to%20Excite%20Shoppers.pdf. Retrieved 13 July 2008. 
  16. ^ Bourchier, Daniel (17 April 2009). "Plea for Garuda to retain Darwin flights". http://www.news.com.au/travel/story/0,28318,25345835-5014090,00.html. 
  17. ^ . http://www.ntnews.com.au/article/2009/04/16/45211_ntnews.html. 
  18. ^ "AIX announces Darwin airport expansion". The Sydney Morning Herald. 11 July 2008. http://news.smh.com.au/business/aix-announces-darwin-airport-expansion-20080711-3dg9.html. Retrieved 11 July 2008. 
  19. ^ "Darwin airport master plan approved". 20 December 2010. http://www.ntnews.com.au/article/2010/12/20/202281_ntnews.html. 
  20. ^ a b "Domestic airline activity". Btre.gov.au. 17 September 2009. http://www.btre.gov.au/info.aspx?NodeId=101. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  21. ^ a b "International airline activity". Btre.gov.au. 14 January 2008. http://www.btre.gov.au/info.aspx?NodeId=103. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  22. ^ "Qantas Launches Melbourne-Darwin Services". Qantas Airways. 11 October 2010. http://www.qantas.com.au/regions/dyn/au/publicaffairs/details?ArticleID=2010/oct10/5021a. Retrieved 29 November 2010. 
  23. ^ "PK-RDB Hull-loss description". Aviation Safety Network. http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19741225-1. Retrieved 24 August 2010. 

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