In the early 1990s, Council gained full ownership of the airport, and it became clear that expansion would be necessary to meet the needs of the future, and to establish Coffs Harbour as a major regional centre. This aim is set out in Council's Business Plan
for the airport.
In 1994 planning began to upgrade the airport terminal and runway to the tune of $8 million.
A significant part of this project were environmental assessments, with about $1 million invested in the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement before it was adopted in January 1998.
Stage one of the project was the widening of the main runway, and construction work started in in May 1999.
The project was undertaken to restore the runway to its former width of 45 metres, to give it greater operational flexibility, and to cater for any aircraft likely to use the facility in the future.
Did the work affect airport operations?
Most of the work widening the runway was carried out at night, to allow the airport to operate without disruption to regular air transport services, and to allow the runway to be used for emergencies.
Despite a period of unseasonably high rainfall - when about 775mm of rain fell in 32 days during the 13-week construction period - Council's works staff succeeded with the project, and the widened runway was operational in September 1999.
At the end of 1999 work started on the $4 million terminal expansion to overcome serious overcrowding at peak times and to meet the growing demand for the airport for at least the next 10 years.
The new expanded terminal became operational in November 2000.
All of this work was completed without cost to State or federal governments, and without cost to the ratepayer. The airport is fully self-sufficient. Only those using the airport are paying for the facilities. Money for the upgrades is being repaid over the next 14 years through operating profits.