Construction of a new terminal at Christchurch Airport is to start in May, with most of the project to be finished for the Rugby World Cup in 2011.
Christchurch International Airport said its board approved the start of the project yesterday. The total cost is $208 million, of which $15 million has been spent on a carparking building.
Airport acting chief executive Jim Boult said the first major stage - a domestic and international check-in hall on the ground floor with a retail and dining precinct on the first floor - would be operational by January 2011.
Work would then start on the demolition of the existing domestic terminal and construction of the rest of the new terminal, with work due to be completed by mid-2012.
During construction, enclosed walkways would allow undisturbed access between the new and existing parts of the terminal. They would cater for the peak passenger demands expected during the World Cup, being played in September and October 2011.
Boult said a project was under way to ensure that what happened around the terminal during the Rugby World Cup would more than make up for any inconvenience.
He said the terminal would be one of the largest construction projects the South Island had seen. When finished, it would advance the South Island's position as New Zealand's tourism gateway, he said. Hawkins Construction is the main building contractor, and is building the new air traffic control tower at the airport.
The terminal project had been delayed several times, but Boult said that the completion date had been brought forward by seven months because of innovative construction staging proposed by Hawkins.