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New Drop-Off Area To Make Auckland Airport 'Fit For The Future'

Part of the new transport hub at Auckland Airport. Photo: Supplied / Greg Bowker

Auckland International Airport's new pick-up and drop-off area is opening to the public next week, with the promise that it will make travellers' journeys easier and faster.

The first stage of the airport's Transport Hub construction saw the old international carpark revamped, with a focus on easy access to public transport.

Travellers heading for the international terminal next Wednesday will be the first to experience the brand-new facility.

With more than 320 metres of undercover kerbside drop-off and pick-up, the area offered a 200 percent increase in the space currently available out in front of the terminal.

The design of the new transport hub prioritised environmental impact, with a solar panel system helping power its future EV charging stations.

Five 25,000 litre rainwater tanks would provide non-potable water for the office and the hub, plus irrigation for planted areas.

Auckland Airport chief executive Carrie Hurihanganui said the redevelopment focused on sustainability.



"We really want to create an airport that is fit for the future, for both passengers [and] also for the environment."

She said the transport hub created a more welcoming arrival and departure point for international travellers, and in the future, domestic customers of the new integrated domestic terminal.

"The drop-off and pick-up lanes... are an important step towards a new integrated domestic terminal.

"This is creating the capacity to manage future vehicle volumes with allowance for future mass rapid transit right alongside."

The new pick-up and drop-off area were built with more change in mind for the Auckland transport network.

It included space allocated for a future mass rapid transit station, and it is designed to handle 650 vehicles per hour at peak times.

Travellers will also have access to 680 meters of covered walkways.

Part of the new transport hub at Auckland Airport.

Part of the new transport hub at Auckland Airport. Photo: Greg Bowker

Parking fares unlikely to go up

The pick-up and drop-off area has specific lanes for public transport, ride sharing and commercial traffic.

Auckland Airport head of commercial projects Brook Myers said with better access, the airport aimed to increase the number of people using bus services.

"We've got the bus down to the Pauanui train station, the bus route to Onehunga, the interterminal bus connections, the Park & Ride buses.

"Hopefully with better transport connections we will get people coming here by bus more often."

Chief commercial officer Mark Thomson said the upgrades would give customers who still wanted to use their vehicles a choice in how much they want to pay for parking.

"We will be providing more variety of products for customers, such as Park and Ride, vacations park, multi-day [parking] and so on.

"Obviously if you want to park closer to the terminal for multi-days, you are going to pay a little more for that like everywhere else.

"We just want to make sure that those prices are something that we can justify fairly and give value to the people for the product that we offer."

Thomson said current standard parking fares were unlikely to go up.

Hurihanganui thanked travellers for their patience while the airport was transformed into a construction-site.

"We do recognise that car parking was less convenient for a period, so we thank people for their patience and understanding during the transport hub construction.

"We reckon the ease and convenience the transport hub delivers will be absolutely worth it."

The new area will be officially opening for the public on Wednesday 3 April.

Part of the new transport hub at Auckland Airport.

Part of the new transport hub at Auckland Airport. Photo: Greg Bowker

1970s inner terminal road closed for business

The opening of the Transport Hub brought the closure of the drop-off and pick-up area that had operated directly out front of the international terminal.

"The upgrade of our terminal front door is one which will be most noticeable to anyone coming to the international terminal," Hurihanganui said.

"We'll be closing the inner terminal road in front of the terminal building to make way for a raft of upgrades that will support the new domestic terminal to be integrated into the international terminal."

Work on the road, utilities and area directly in front of the terminal would take place over the next two years.

Pedestrian access would be maintained through controlled crossings at departures and arrivals.

"Below ground, we need to prepare the airport for the next 50 years of operation by making sure the vital utilities backbone - water, stormwater, sewage, power, telecommunications, and the like - are fit-for-purpose," Hurihanganui said.

"Over the years utilities have kept pace with traveller growth but meeting the needs of the new domestic terminal and ensuring future resilience requires a major upgrade to these vital connections."

Part of the new transport hub at Auckland Airport.

Part of the new transport hub at Auckland Airport. Photo: Greg Bowker

Development controversy

The $3.9 billion redevelopment has been controversial since it was announced last year.

Airlines said the project costs will be passed on as airport regulated charges, and those will end up rising ticket fares, making flying unaffordable for some passengers.

But Auckland Airport said domestic charges had been rock-bottom for many years and were about 40-60 percent lower than that charged at comparable airports.

Hurihanganui said the redevelopment was necessary.

"We are focused on all our customers. We've got airlines that are really critical partners of ours, but we also have the 20 million passengers and travellers that go through the airport, who have clearly told us the need to improve that experience.

"We need to have a fit and resilient airport. We have to have a facility that represents New Zealand and allows the economic growth that New Zealand needs to succeed."

She said the rise in airport charges to airlines was long overdue.

"There have been 65 cents increase in the last 10 years in real terms, that's half a billion dollars, for example, that Air New Zealand shareholders would have benefited from.

"The fact that our charges are going up by 2027, they are only just going to be in line with Wellington and Christchurch. So, while the charge is going up, we are providing a facility that New Zealand needs, and we will be on par with other airports."

Air New Zealand chief corporate affairs officer Mat Bolland said the redevelopment could have been done for much less.

"We've actually asked the people who helped the airport with their master plan to take another look, and they've found that you can lower the cost by at least a billion dollars, probably more.

"And really the fact that we can't get any agreement on this issue with the airport is why we've asked the government to take a look and have an inquiry into the regulatory regime."

He said the airport needed changes, but not at the cost of travellers.

"Everybody knows that the airport needs investment.

"Our challenge... is that the product at the end won't be affordable and as much as we need to upgrade the airport, if you can't afford to fly there, it's not of much help."

Bolland said airport charges would rise exponentially compared to other airports.

"The airport charges at the moment are going to go from being quite low to being some of the most expensive in the southern hemisphere within about eight years.

"The cost of flying in and out of Auckland will go up by about $40 each way, and that's going to mean that a number of people in New Zealand will not be able to afford to fly."

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