Queenstown Airport celebrates bumper year with strong growth and infrastructure expansions

Runway completion media

Photo: Runway team after completion.

Investment in infrastructure and record breaking passenger numbers has set Queenstown Airport up for a year of growth and expansion, paving the way for even more opportunities in 2017.

Following the Queenstown Airport runway and lighting infrastructure upgrade earlier this year, after-dark flights commenced in May and June helping the airport community grow from 350 to 500 people.

The addition of after-dark flights aided the increase of passenger numbers across all months, with QAC reporting an all-time high in August of 1.7 million passengers in the previous 12 month period.

Completed in November, 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.

QAC RCP and Downer oversee Queenstown Airports car parking expansion works media
Photo: The QAC, RCP and Downer team oversee Queenstown Airport’s car parking expansion works. (L-R) RCP Project Manager Diarmuid Holton, Downer Project Engineer Patrick Gallagher, QAC Project Manager Dannielle Dendle and QAC Property & Commercial Manager Mark Samways.

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.

Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) chief executive Colin Keel said 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. 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”, he added.

“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.”

“We’ve achieved a lot in a short space of time. This will continue in the New Year with works to improve vehicle flow at the airport entrance, establishment of a new roundabout, addition of 55 car parks to the staff car park, relocation of the coach parks to Chris Read Green and the addition of a dual lane to part of the access road.

Ultimately these works will enable us to re-instate the public drop-off lane directly outside the terminal, something which we know is of great importance to our visitors,” added Colin.

“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.”

Queenstown Airport27s first international evening flight JQ219 arrives at the gate media
Photo: Queenstown Airport's first international evening flight JQ219 arrives at the gate.

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 15 December to 15 January 2017.

“We want to ensure all our visitors have a memorable experience when arriving to or departing from Queenstown. Having a break from construction works enables us to provide the best experience possible.”

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.

“We’ll continue to engage with the communities that we serve as we manage periods of planned growth. We’re committed to providing an exceptional and memorable customer experience for all our visitors.”

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,” said Colin.

“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.”

Queenstown Airport 2016 Highlights:

  • The runway and lighting infrastructure upgrade to enable after-dark flights cost $19 million
  • The new-look runway is 45m wide, 1,891m long and took 100 nights of work and 90 days of work, representing a cumulative total of 25,000 man hours for the contract
  • Six new eGates were introduced at international customs in May reducing queues significantly by increasing processing rates from 350 passengers to 1,000 passengers per hour.
  • First domestic and international after-dark flights arrive into Queenstown Airport expanding the flying usage of the airport from 6am – 10pm
  • New, high-speed WiFi went live in June with a dedicated fibre connection and additional access points
  • New Chief Executive Colin Keel joined QAC in June
  • The airport community grew from 350 people to 500 people once evening flights started as most of the 60 strong businesses moved to double shift operations
  • QAC added an additional 50 car parking spaces – an increase of 10%
  • QAC expanded the commercial area to enable pick-up and drop-off from the zone
  • QAC passenger numbers hit an all-time high in August with 1.7 million passengers in the previous 12 month period
    • Some of our busiest days were 18 November (7,340 passengers) and 20 November (7,364 passengers). These were our 2nd and 4th busiest days on record for total passengers.
    • On 20 November we set a new record for domestic passengers in a day - 5,735 passengers
  • QAC passenger numbers have increased 38% in the last three years alone. Numbers are predicted to increase by another 33% by the end of 2019 breaking the 2 Million markIn the financial year 2015/16, QAC returned a total of $6.3 million to its two shareholders QLDC and Auckland International Airport. For majority shareholders QLDC, this meant a dividend payment of $4.7 million, which equates to around $202 per rateable property in the district.