The completion of a runway and lighting infrastructure upgrade earlier this year allowed the New Zealand gateway to introduce night flights for the first time and, as a result, passenger numbers have soared and the airport workforce has swelled from 350 to 500 people.
In August, operator Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) reported that an all-time high of 1.7 million passengers had passed through the gateway in the previous 12-month period.
In 2016 QAC also undertook staged car parking expansion works adding approximately 50 spaces – an increase of over 10% - to assist with demand for car parking during the busy summer months and beyond.
And as a prelude to the work planned for next year to improve vehicle flow throughout the airport, works to expand the commercial zone also took place with commercial pick-up and drop-off now available in this area.
QAC chief executive, Colin Keel, says the runway expansion and car parking infrastructure works were a “critical part of the airport’s short and long term growth plans”.
“It’s been a big year at Queenstown Airport in many ways,” he enthuses.
“At the beginning of the year we committed to a number of initiatives to better understand and provide short-term solutions for the increased demand on car parking at the airport.
“We’ve completed the tasks we set ourselves and have already taken action by adding an additional 50 car parking spaces for summer and conducted research on users of SH6 for parking.
“We also are active in conversations on an airport park and ride trial which would offer an affordable, long-term parking solution.”
He continues: “We’ve listened to the community and delivered improvements.
“The works completed to date have been an essential part of the plan to improve the flow for all visitors. Once Stage 4 is completed in June next year, we will alleviate more of the issues our visitors have experienced during such a high growth period.”
To ensure things run smoothly over the busy holiday period, QAC has announced that no major construction works will take place at the airport from December 15 to January 15, 2017.
“We want to ensure all our visitors have a memorable experience when arriving to or departing from Queenstown an and having a break from construction works enables us to provide the best experience possible,” adds Keel.
QAC will commence Stage 4 works in late January next year, with works expected to be completed by June in time for the busy winter season.
In conjunction with stakeholders, QAC is currently developing a 30-year master plan for Queenstown Airport.
“We’re excited for the year ahead, beginning not only with the next phase of our short term construction works, but also the unveiling of the long term master plan that will shape the future of Queenstown Airport,” says Keel.
“We as a team are hopeful 2017 will generate even more firsts and record breaking passenger days as we continue our upward trend of being the fastest growing airport in New Zealand.”