$5.5m facelift unveiled for Invercargill Airport

Invercargill Airport is officially booked in for a facelift, with a $5.5 million expenditure plan announced yesterday.

The cash injection will incorporate three separate projects, perhaps the most significant being the upgrade and extension of the main terminal building.

Construction of an arterial road and covered walkway into the car park is also under way and older portions of the runway will be resurfaced under a commercial agreement with Air New Zealand.

Invercargill Airport Ltd chief executive Barry Bouton said the terminal upgrade would include an enlargement of the building out towards the runway area and general aesthetic work.

When queried about the prospect of international flights into the city Mr Bouton said the possibility had been taken into account when planning the new upgrades.

"In other words everything we do, although not making direct provision for international flights, doesn't stop us from being able to incorporate international departure or arrival lounges going into the future."

When asked if the company should be spending so much money in uncertain economic times, Mr Bouton said they were confident their cashflow and future budgets placed the airport in a safe position.

The expenditure would provide an important boost the the region with new jobs but just how many jobs would be created was uncertain, he said.

Deputy Mayor Neil Boniface said it was great news the work would take place as it was essential to have working infrastructure.

"The times aren't good but I don't think any time's good to spend money and this is an asset that's going to be here for another 50 to 100 years," he said.

The Government, a shareholder in Invercargill, had put little money in over the years and there had been a lot of criticism from the public about parking facilities.

Operations manager Eric Forsyth, who is overseeing the current construction, said the new arterial road would ease congestion issues, providing a separate area for people who were dropping off passengers and people who were picking them up.

The road was expected to be finished by Easter, with the covered walkway estimated to be completed later in the year.

The Southland Times