Airport History



Adventure, world conflict, the emergence of modern airlines and the rise of air travel as a preferred mode of transport are hallmarks of Brisbane Airport’s evolution as an international gateway and economic engine for Queensland. Join us as we journey back in time to discover the history of Brisbane Airport.



Brisbane Airport, or Eagle Farm as it was originally know, has long been a hub for aviation in Queensland. Eagle Farm was originally a place for female convicts and in 1922, Captain Jack Treacy was the first to land his aircraft “ The Queen of Sheba” at the new Farm Aerodome.

The 32-hectare site was officially chosen as an aerodrome in 1925 and in 1926 Qantas began its flight operations. It was an exciting time in aviation history with pioneer aviators making record breaking long distance flights. Here is a snap shot of key moments of BNE history.

BNE our History:




  • 9th June 1928: Sir Charles Kingsford Smith completed the first trans-Pacific flight totalling 11, 566 km. An Aviation first, his famous aircraft The Southern Cross landing safely at Eagle Farm at 10.15AM to a crowd of 26, 000 people(Link to Wikipedia ) The Southern Cross has been on display at Brisbane Airport since 1958 as a memorial.
  • 1931: Commercial aviation activities were transferred from Eagle Farm to Archerfield. Eagle Farm was later reopened as a U.S. military airfield.




  • The war ended in 1945 which lead to the Department of Civil Aviation moving airline operations from Archerfield back to Eagle Farm to capitalise on the facilities built during the war as well as more favourable meteorological conditions, and a greater expansion potential.
  • Reconstruction work and minor airport additions in the late 1950s accommodated the relatively low volume of traffic for the next decade.



  • In the early 1970s, the search was instigated for an alternative site for a major airport in light of growing concernsof the Eagle Farm location.Various sites were considered and an area of 2,700 hectares to the north-east of Eagle Farm was selected.
  • A former suburb of Brisbane, Cribb Island, famous because it was the childhood home of pop superstars, the Bee Gees, was resumed for the new airport.
  • Cribb island had the advantage of permitting thedevelopment of widely spaced parallel runways in a NNE/SSW direction. The site was also large enough for the runways to be sufficiently separated to permit independent (same direction) operations on each parallel runway and the central location of terminal facilities.
  • The new airport was planned to be compatible with the increasing industrial and seaport activities that were taking place along the Brisbane River. The main runway’s 01/19 orientation was shown to minimise the constraints on nearby development. Following Government approval of a major Environmental Impact Study, construction of the new airport commenced in May 1980. By March 1988, the airport was operational.


BNE History - Want more?

Our friend Ron Cuskelly has been indexing arrivals and departures as well as significant events at BNE from 1928 to 2002. His great website and images can be found here.


1997 – Today


  • In September 1996, the Australian Government passed the Airports Act 1996, which established the new regulatory arrangements for privatised airports including Brisbane Airport. Following a process of international competitive tendering, Brisbane Airport Corporation Pty Ltd purchased the long-term lease (50 + 49 years) of Brisbane Airport from the Commonwealth and took over management and operations on 2 July 1997.
  • The next decade was characterised by record passenger growth as well as unprecedented global challenges. BAC set out to redefine the role of the modern airport in Australia with a strong focus on community, sustainability, education, knowledge and economic growth.
  • Today, Brisbane Airport is one of Australia’s fastest growing airports. Since 2006 airport development has included the expansion and refurbishment of the International Terminal, the opening of a major high-speed road system, new parking infrastructure at the Domestic Terminal and the installation of leading-edge technology and services.
  • In 2011/12 more than 20 million domestic and international passengers passed through the airport and this number is expected to growth to 45 million by 2030. Over 20,000 people work at Brisbane Airport and around 430 aviation and non-aviation related businesses operate from the airport site.


Brisbane Airport background