Queenstown Airport is ready for the peak winter period.
New Zealand school holidays begin this weekend and the Matariki public holiday on 14 July will also see more people travelling.
The airport has 379 flights scheduled to arrive over the first two weeks of July, not far off the 413 it handled during the corresponding period in 2019.
“The terminal will be busy, but we’re well-prepared,” Chief Operating Officer Todd Grace said. “We’ve used the past couple of months to complete a series of projects that will increase our operational efficiency and customer service, and we have more work under way.”
Nine extra self-service kiosks and six automated bag-drop units have been added to the check-in area shared by Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Australia. Queues have reduced markedly since the introduction of this technology.
“Nobody likes waiting in line to check in or drop bags,” Mr Grace said. “This technology speeds up the process and is easy for passengers and airline staff to use.”
Four innovative boarding ramps, imported from the UK and assembled on the airfield, are being put into service as airline ground handlers are trained in their use.
“The ramps are another significant investment in operational efficiency, as well as safety, accessibility and sustainability,” Mr Grace said.
Fully enclosed, they have a low gradient and anti-slip flooring, making them safer to use than the stairs they are replacing. They also make it quicker to get passengers on and off aircraft and reduce the number of passengers who need help boarding.
The ramps are fully electric and solar-powered – a first for New Zealand.
Integrated operations centre
Another innovation to improve efficiency is the establishment of an integrated operations centre. Queenstown Airport’s duty managers now work alongside airline representatives and Aviation Security managers in a central control room, which enables collaboration and quick decision-making if a problem arises.
Flight information screens
The digital screens providing information about arrivals and departures have been redesigned to be easier to read and to meet accessibility guidelines
Terminal upgrade programme
Meanwhile, the terminal upgrade programme is on schedule, with the Patagonia cafe due to reopen after being repositioned to make space for a fourth security screening lane.
Fit-out of a new pop-up cafe is progressing well. It will provide another food and beverage option for airport staff and visitors when the domestic departures area is extended to incorporate the Airspresso cafe.
Bathrooms in the departures area are also being upgraded as part of the terminal upgrade project, which is due to be completed by spring.