By Will Lee
Auckland Airport Revises Its Expansion Scheme
As a result of the prolonged pandemic, Auckland Airport had scaled back its expansion scheme and left some confirmed projects on hold, including the airport’s second runway.
The airport had confirmed a two billion New Zealand dollars ($1.4 billion) of core aeronautical infrastructure projects before the pandemic. With no end in sight for the lift of the international travel restrictions, the airport has suspended its expansion of the international airfield and taxiway capacity, new cargo precinct, the new international arrival areas and the second runway until travel demand surges.
However, the Auckland Airport hasn’t stopped improving its facilities during the pandemic. Last year, the airport finished its runway maintenance. Auckland International Airport has announced that it will enhance its services by merging domestic travel into international terminal.
“We haven’t wasted a day since the outbreak of Covid-19, using the time to plan ahead and develop a refreshed pathway for future infrastructure that is realistic, prioritizes the right projects and is carefully aligned with aviation’s recovery,” Adrian Littlewood, the airport’s Chief Executive, said.
“The low-traffic made the airport refine the original design,” Littlewood added.
The first stage of construction is set to start in early 2022. It is expected the passenger capacity will remain low and cost around NZ$30 million ($21 million). According to Littlewood, the international passenger volume has been dropped 97%. The international terminal has handled 30,000 passengers daily before the pandemic.
The Auckland-based traveller will benefit from the new transportation hub with an upgraded pedestrian, transport links, and car parking will offer a smooth connection into the terminal.
The new domestic operation is expected to be three times the size of the domestic terminal. The current domestic terminal was found five decades ago and cramped.
“By integrating a new domestic terminal into the existing international terminal, it will be easier for our customers to connect from domestic jet services to international flights,” Carrie Hurihanganui, Air New Zealand’s Chief Operating Officer, said to welcome the expansion.
“Having their passengers transiting seamlessly between international and domestic flights all under the one roof will be warmly welcomed by international airline,.” Justin Tighe-Umbers, Executive Director of Board of Airline Representatives of New Zealand (BARNZ), said.
In the meantime, the aviation industry in New Zealand is facing a setback. As a result of the coronavirus’ Delta variant outbreak in Australia, the travel bubble between two countries has been suspended for eight weeks. In addition, the travel demand between two countries is lower than expected. The capacity in July was only 44% of pre-pandemic.
In response to the suspend of the travel bubble, the airline expected a loss of NZ$530 million ($371.8 million), compared with its prior forecast of a loss not exceeding NZ$450 million.