Hamilton International Airport officially has opened its $15.5 million terminal.
The development followed lengthening of the runway to 2195 metres, making it the fourth longest civilian runway in New Zealand, the local authority-owned airport said.
Company chairman Jerry Rickman said that with plans to extend the runway to 2720m, the airport would be in a position to talk to international airlines about flights to Asia and to explore freight distribution opportunities.
The five shareholding councils' initial investment of $2.1 million to buy the government ownership of the airport in 1996 had grown to net equity after debt of $37 million, he said.
Prime Minister Helen Clark and Maori King Tuheitia opened the terminal yesterday.
Along with plans to extend the runway, airport operator Waikato Regional Airport is planning an industrial and commercial estate, Titanium Park, on 100 hectares of airport land once rezoning is completed.
Yesterday, Rotorua Airport was also granted approval by the Environment Court to extend its runway to cater for trans-Tasman flights.
Rotorua District Council chief executive Peter Geurin said construction was likely to start in about six months, and completed about the middle of 2009.
Negotiations with airlines aimed at attracting regular scheduled services between Rotorua and Australia could now start, he said.
- The Dominion Post
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