PARKING EXPANSION: Ballina Shire Council has plans to expand the parking at Ballina Byron Gateway Airport by 200 spaces.
PARKING EXPANSION: Ballina Shire Council has plans to expand the parking at Ballina Byron Gateway Airport by 200 spaces.

The change coming to Ballina airport that will ease stress

IF YOU get frustrated trying to find parking at Ballina Byron Gateway Airport, particularly an overnight spot, relief is in sight.

Ballina Shire Council's airport manager, Paul Tsikleas, said concept plans were being finalised which will see parking spaces at the airport increase from 500 to 700.

"We hope to have the work finalised by the end of the year," he said.

But that doesn't mean an end to paid parking, so there still will be those who choose to park along Southern Cross Dr and walk to the airport.

Mr Tsikleas said a boom gate also will be installed at the airport's car park and motorists will pay for parking as they exit.

He said this will mean passengers whose flights are delayed will simply pay for the time they use the car park, rather than unintentionally risk an infringement notice for overstaying their booked time.

There will be a period of free parking for those wanting to meet passengers, or to spend a little bit more time with those departing.

Mr Tsikleas said that period of grace had yet to be determined.

He said staff would be looking at balancing a fair time for the "meet-and-greeters" but not have that time impact on the spaces available for others who want overnight parking or longer.

"We'll have a solution to these issues by the end of February," he said.

He said the new Airport Boulevard road, which currently is under construction, should also be completed by the end of the year.

The new road aims to provide an improved first impression for passengers arriving in Ballina, rather than taking the current gateway route past the Ballina tip and council's works depot.

Four carriers - Jetstar, Virgin, FlyPelican and Rex - currently operate at Ballina airport, with Qantas recently announcing a new Sydney service to start at the end of March.

The upgraded airport terminal was opened last year.