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NEWS Last modified on February 19, 2015

Construction of Queenstown Airport's new terminal gathering pace

Queenstown Airport has started construction of the new international terminal that it hopes will help it meet rising passenger demand for the foreseeable future.

The NZ$12 million (€7.4 million) project will expand the current building footprint by a third in time for next winter.

Driven by strong year-on-year international passenger growth, the 4,080sqm addition to the southern end of the terminal will double the size of the airport’s international operations.

The New Zealand gateway says it will allow it to better cater for existing passenger volumes and accommodate future growth.

The new building is to be designed to blend in with the wider terminal but, while the outer shell will be completed by June 2015, the interior is set to be developed in three stages.

Stage One will be ready for next winter with new international arrival and departure lounges, a new customs area, airside retail stores, baggage claim and handling areas, a covered walkway, and office space. The changes will allow the airport to process up to 1,000 passengers per hour compared to the current 480.

Stage Two will involve spatial reconfiguration to simplify passenger flows between customs, baggage reclaim and the Ministry of Primary Industries’ bio-security area, as well as housing extra staff facilities.

Stage Three is predicted to be several years away, and will centre around developing a mezzanine floor, potentially for more gate lounges and retail space.

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Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) chief executive, Scott Paterson, believes that building the outer shell now makes sense as it will better equip the airport to meet “surging” international demand both today and in the future.

He explains: “The pop-up structure we installed this winter worked really well and gave us more space for international passengers, but we need permanent terminal capacity. 

“Our airlines are supportive of the scale of the new build which will give us the flexibility to move into the space when triggered by demand.”

The new terminal has been designed by John Rogers of CCM Architects, who has been the lead architect for terminal expansions since 2004, and is being built by Cook Brothers Construction and managed by RCP.

Construction noise is not anticipated to be an issue and works will adhere to the New Zealand standard for construction noise, and the terminal expansion is the latest in a series of developments around Queenstown Airport.

Other new offerings in the past 12 months have included retail stores and cafés, a second airline lounge and a mini corporate jet terminal.

Queenstown has struggled to keep up with demand as half a million more passengers fly in each year than five years ago, and last year, the gateway handled 1.25 million passengers in its 2013/14 financial year, and the long-term target is five million.

•  QAC this week reported a strong result for the six months to 31 December 2014, with increased passenger numbers contributing to a solid financial performance.

Sustained international and domestic passenger growth, together with improved commercial revenue, saw it earn a Net Profit After Tax of NZ$4.7 million - up 23% compared to a profit of $3.8 million for the corresponding period in 2013.

In line with its dividend policy, QAC paid an interim dividend of $1 million to its shareholders, with 75.1% payable to Queenstown Lakes District Council and 24.9 per cent to Auckland International Airport Ltd. 

Queenstown Airport Corporation board chairman, John Gilks, says that the company’s continued infrastructure investment and initiatives to improve the customer experience were paying off.

“In the first six-month period we welcomed just under half a million domestic passengers through Queenstown Airport and passed the 200,000 mark for international passengers for the first time ever in a six month period,” he enthuses.

Total passenger numbers increased 11% to 720,000 in the first half of the 2014/15 financial year and international passenger numbers continued to grow strongly - up 23.5 per cent to 221,000 compared to the same period the previous year. 

Mid-December 2014 saw the recommencement of Jetstar’s Gold Coast service with a new three times-weekly schedule. 

According to the airport, these flights, in addition to increases on existing routes for all airlines, mean double digit international passenger growth should continue through the second half of the year.

After decreasing slightly last year, domestic passenger numbers have rebounded in the first half of the financial year, up 6.3% to 499,000. The upturn is primarily down to an increase in numbers on the Auckland-Queenstown route but more jets on the Christchurch and Wellington routes have provided extra capacity.   

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