$17m airport terminal open for business


Queenstown Airport’s new $17 million international terminal is open for business.

The first passengers were processed in the terminal’s arrivals hall on June 3, with the remaining areas opening in stages.

Up to 150 contractors at a time have been working two shifts seven days a week for the past nine months to complete the project on time and on budget.

The expansion accommodates two gate lounges, a Customs processing area, expanded retail outlets, a third baggage carousel, back-of-house handling areas and a duty-free store double the size of its predecessor.

The 4100 square metre expansion to the southern end of the terminal building has increased its footprint by a third to more than 16,000sq m - an area covering more than two rugby fields.

It’s doubled the airport’s international operations – giving it the ability to cope with record growth in passenger numbers.

Nearly 1.4 million passengers passed through the airport in the last year, and international passenger volumes had grown from 24,000 in 2005 to 381,000 this year.

That number is expected to rise to more than 660,000 within a decade.

Airport chief executive Scott Paterson says with evening flights expected from next winter – expanding the airport’s flying window – the development has set up the airport for the next three to five years.

“It’s been a constant battle as our infrastructure has struggled to keep pace with huge year-on-year passenger growth, so this time we are very fortunate to have strong support from our airline users to build a bigger shell for future expansion.”

The new inbound arrivals hall will still hit capacity at peak times, he says.

But it’ll be a vast improvement on the temporary, pop-up structure used last winter that became overcrowded nearly every day.

Paterson says the terminal’s mezzanine floor can house expanded facilities as passenger numbers swell.

Space has been set aside in the Customs area for Smart Gates, which will further speed up passenger flows.

The airport is pushing Customs to have them introduced as soon as possible.

The new terminal will be officially opened at a private function next Wednesday, which is the 20th anniversary of the airport welcoming its first international flight.

Otago Daily Times