Auckland Airport calls for a "fresh start" for Auckland

3 April 2008 - 10.40 (NZT)
Today Auckland Airport celebrated the opening of a new arrivals area at the international terminal.

The Minister of Customs and Associate Minister of Tourism, Hon. Nanaia Mahuta, officially opened the new area which commenced operation on Monday night.

Invited guests, staff and tangata whenua were treated to an escorted visit into the restricted area 'airside' and got a taste of what international visitors and returning kiwis now experience once they have disembarked their flight.

Complete with travelators, stunning views of the Manukau Harbour and close ups of a busy airport, the new arrivals area features iconic and cultural imagery reflecting the journey across the ocean to Aotearoa. There is intuitive signage (in line with global best-practice), fresh contemporary and sustainable architecture, a spacious shopping area and an improved Customs and Immigration experience.

Located to the west of the existing terminal the new area is part of Auckland Airport's Masterplan 2025 - the company's development strategy for the future.

"Today has been a milestone event in Auckland Airport's history and we are especially proud to greet international visitors and kiwis returning home with a fresh contemporary welcome," says chief executive Don Huse. "This is part of an ongoing project; June will see the completion of the secondary screening area where MAF Biosecurity New Zealand x-ray luggage, and in October we will open stage one of the second pier, Pier B."

Pier B will initially have two contact gates each with two air bridges for two-door handling of a single large aircraft, and will accommodate the first A380 when it arrives in February next year.

George Hickton, chief executive of Tourism New Zealand, believes that the welcome an international visitor receives when they land in a new country creates a vital first impression which can set the scene for the rest of their visit. "As one of New Zealand's main ports of entry, Auckland Airport is in the rare and privileged position to make a great first impression for New Zealand and New Zealanders. Tourism New Zealand is delighted by Auckland Airport's upgrade project, which makes the airport a world-class arrival point. I am particularly pleased to see eye-catching modern architecture combined with New Zealand's Maori culture and history as part of the welcome our visitors will receive," says George Hickton.

The first stage of the international arrivals expansion and Pier B have a combined cost of approximately $135 million.

"Auckland Airport is committed to improving the visitor and traveller experience and there is more to come," says Don Huse. "By 2010 the first floor of the international departures area will be redeveloped. The emigration area will be expanded and in a new location. There will be a greatly improved dining and shopping experience once passengers pass through emigration."

The next stage of expansion of the arrivals processing facilities, referred to as Stage 3B, will bring the baggage hall, Customs, MAF Biosecurity New Zealand secondary screening area and the arrivals concourse for meeters and greeters up to a newly developed first floor. Located between Piers A and B, the new extension will be at the centre of the international terminal and will extend across the current forecourt roads. This project has a total cost of approximately $200 million over three years.

The development will substantially increase the landside arrivals concourse; improve terminal forecourt roads, traffic management and car parking facilities. Inbound baggage reclaim/carousel capacity will also increase. A wider range of food and beverage offerings, foreign exchange outlets, specialty retail, visitor information services, rental car outlets will also be included in the development. Visitors and travellers will enjoy enhanced way-finding, and much more spacious areas with a distinctive New Zealand flavour.

"Stage 3B was previously planned to be accelerated in time for completion prior to the Rugby World Cup in 2011. However, the company has decided to defer making a decision to proceed with this project for up to 12 months. This period will give us time to see how the existing facilities perform and to better gauge the optimal timing for the next stage of the arrivals expansion. Furthermore, this deferral will allow Auckland Airport to gain greater certainty in relation to the appropriate returns from this very substantial project, given that the regulatory environment for airports in New Zealand is currently being reviewed.

"The company also took into account the fact that the airlines, represented by the Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand (BARNZ,) did not support accelerating the project. Finally the company is also cognisant of the current global economic environment and the impact that the 'credit crunch' may have on passenger volumes in the short-term.

"Regardless of the outcome of the timing of this project Auckland Airport will be welcoming and well able to accommodate the increase of visitors during the Rugby World Cup" says Don Huse.

A 4-5 star hotel is also planned for the international terminal precinct.