Auckland Airport see new horizons of growth

Auckland Airport prepares to provide better facilities to travellers (Image supplied)

Praneeta Mahajan
Hamilton, March 22, 2023

Auckland Airport is underway its biggest redevelopment since the airport opened in 1966 with a brand-new domestic terminal to be fully integrated into the international terminal.

Patrick Strange, Auckland Airport’s Chairperson said, “This is a major investment for Auckland Airport, one which we have been working towards for many years. The domestic terminal is almost 60 years old and needs replacing. It is nearing capacity and is no longer fit for purpose and has not been for some time. If it was not for the pandemic, we would already be well underway with its replacement.”

Auckland Airport has been consulting with its major airline customers since May 2011 on a replacement for the ageing domestic terminal and plans to build an integrated terminal. Over that time 21 concept designs have been developed by Auckland Airport and discussed with major airlines as part of the consultation process.

“We have worked with major airlines for over a decade on this. We have considered all feedback, including potential alternative locations and even further delays to infrastructure development. All of this has been carefully thought through and we have made changes where appropriate, but now we need to get on with it,” Mr Strange said.

“Every dollar we spend on this infrastructure will serve travellers, airlines and New Zealand well into the future. It will ensure New Zealand’s main gateway is resilient and sustainable, supporting airline ambitions for a low-carbon future and strengthening our infrastructure in the face of increasingly severe weather events due to climate change.”

Overhaul to complement the growing need for modern comforts (Image supplied)

The terminal integration programme, a significant part of the airport’s wider 10-year capital programme will bring domestic travel and international travel together under the same roof for the first time since 1977, via an expansion at the eastern end of the existing International terminal building.

The integration programme is also an important enabler in allowing Auckland Airport to carry out key upgrades on the airfield to ensure the airport remains resilient.

“This is all about building the gateway Auckland and New Zealand need,” said Carrie Hurihanganui, Auckland Airport’s Chief Executive.

“A new domestic terminal integrated into the international terminal will make Auckland Airport fit for the future, providing a much-improved experience for travellers, something they have clearly and repeatedly told us they want. They have been asking for a domestic facility that offers modern spaces, efficient passenger processing areas, improved bathroom facilities and faster baggage systems, as well as better connections between domestic and international travel and via public transport and the city. In short, renovations just would not cut it anymore,” Ms Hurihanganui said.

Set to open between 2028 and 2029, the combined terminal will serve the larger and more efficient domestic jet aircraft flying to and from Auckland to New Zealand’s other main centres, alongside international operations.

“It will make travel easier and faster, cutting domestic jet to international transfer times to a five-minute indoor walk. A new check-in experience will provide state-of-the-art facilities for both domestic and international travellers, including the ability to check in and store your bag at any time throughout the day.

“Smart baggage systems will save time and reduce stress at either end of a flight. There will be faster links to public transport via the new Transport Hub we are building on the doorstep of the international terminal. We will also provide new gates and other facilities to help airlines smooth and speed-up turn-around times.”

The new combined terminal will add floor space across two levels to the existing international terminal building, with the wider integration programme including significant upgrades to airfield pavement, underlying utilities, and employing 2,000 people at the height of construction.

Pre-covid, a total of 9.6 million domestic passengers travelled through the domestic terminal each year, while 11.5 million international passengers (including transits) passed through the international terminal.

A sneak peek into how it will look (Image Supplied)

Low carbon future

“Sustainability is a priority for us and this investment will help us move towards climate change goals and create a more sustainable airport,” said Ms Hurihanganui.

“We have worked very closely with major airlines to understand their needs and requirements, including the investment they are making in larger domestic aircraft, and their planned future low-carbon aircraft. We are supporting airlines by installing ground power units at each gate to supply power to aircraft, helping to reduce fuel use.

“Without the right airport infrastructure any airline aspirations to a low carbon future will not be achieved,” Ms Hurihanganui said.

Along with ground power units for aircraft, the upgraded airfield surrounding the new combined terminal will provide charging for electric ground handling equipment and vehicles. Design and construction materials for the combined terminal will be selected to reduce the building’s carbon footprint as much as possible, alongside a focus on waste minimisation and water efficiency.

Global rebuild of airports

Auckland Airport is not alone in making significant, much-needed aeronautical investments. According to Airports Council International (ACI), globally around $US2.4 trillion needs to be spent on airport infrastructure over the next two decades, more than half of that investment in the Asia Pacific region.

“Airports were built in the 1960s at the dawn of the jet age, and right across the world upgrades are taking place to better serve today’s modern traveller as well as the future of aviation. New airports like Western Sydney in Australia are being built, however, the majority of investment is going into modernising and enhancing existing airports like Auckland Airport.”

Ms Hurihanganui said while future airline charges will have to increase, they will be coming off a very low base due to the age of the existing domestic terminal. Auckland Airport will only begin to recover the cost of infrastructure investment once commissioned and airport users (airlines and travellers) are enjoying the benefits.

She said, “Kicking infrastructure investment down the road would not be in New Zealand’s best interests. History shows it will not get any easier or cheaper.”

While the new combined terminal is under construction, domestic travel will continue to operate from the existing domestic terminal.

Highlights of the $3.9 Billion terminal integration programme

  • The building programme includes a domestic processor ($2.2b) and other key terminal integration programme projects associated with the development ($1.7b) and includes forecast construction cost escalation and holding costs.
  • Building programme costs have been benchmarked and are in line with other major airport brownfield developments
  • 12 new domestic aircraft gates (20% more than at the current domestic terminal) with electric charging, all catering to the more efficient and larger (passenger capacity) domestic jets airlines are investing in.
  • Five-minute, indoor domestic to international transfer journey
  • Additional dwell and retail space
  • State-of-the-art check-in area
  • Smart baggage system, using 50% less power to process each bag than a conventional conveyor-based system.
  • Employing 2,000 additional workers at the height of construction
  • Fast easy transport connection, with a $300 million Transport Hub under construction. Land adjoining the Transport Hub has been set aside for a future integrated mass transit station.

Watch the video here about the journey so far.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.

 

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