Airport terminal for $40m upgrade

Last updated 05:00 26/10/2012

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A $40 million upgrade and expansion of Wellington Airport's domestic terminal will increase its size by about a third.

The southern extension is intended to cope with fast-growing passenger numbers that have meant the present terminal, opened in 1999, has been at full capacity at peak times.

When it opened, it catered for about 3.5 million passengers a year. That number is now at 5.5 million and expected to reach 6 million by the time work on the extension finishes in 2015.

Jetstar and Air New Zealand have recently announced new services into Wellington.

Wellington Airport chief executive Steven Sanderson told a Property Council forum this week that it was investing $100m in essential infrastructure during the next five years to stay ahead of the growth in passengers.

Work is expected to start next year on extending the present terminal 35 metres further south and revamping the southern pier where Air New Zealand has its gates.

\The pier was opened in 1998 before security was beefed up to screen all jet passengers after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

With larger jets now flying on domestic routes, and quicker turnarounds, those gate lounges were becoming too small, airport company chief operating officer John Howarth said.

"What we're looking at is making that whole pier a jet pier so the whole pier becomes a secure area.

"One central security point will be more efficient, but the primary driver is that it will provide more space for gate lounges. It will be totally refurbished, with more space and better amenities."

Another gate would be provided for all the smaller turboprop aircraft flying provincial routes.

Extra shops, toilets and lifts would also be provided, and a fourth baggage carousel would be added on the ground floor. The extension would be similar in style to the present terminal.

Mr Howarth said the airport was also looking at making more use of the gates around the northern pier.

Other plans for the next five years include a hotel, a car park building, relocating the airport fire service building, and two new crash fire tenders, which have been ordered at a cost of $2.8m.

Beyond that, the plan for 2020 is to build another pier on land now used for parking at the southern end of the terminal.

Space for expansion was limited - the airport is confined to just 110 hectares, much smaller than Christchurch, at 700ha, and Auckland at 1400ha.

Positively Wellington Tourism chief executive David Perks said he was confident the airport's plans for the next 10 to 20 years would be sufficient to keep up with market demand.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the improvements to passenger areas were good to see. "But these are necessary changes, not game changers."

Contact Hank Schouten
Property reporter

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- The Dominion Post


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