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Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

Auckland's $2.4 billion airport of the future

Artist impression of Auckland Airport's 30-year vision for a sweeping new domestic and international terminal.
Artist impression of Auckland Airport's 30-year vision for a sweeping new domestic and international terminal.

Auckland Airport has released plans for "the airport of the future" that includes a sweeping crescent-shaped domestic and international terminal on one site.

The project which has a price tag of $2.4 billion is part of the company's strategy of building the airport's position as a key hub in the Asia-Pacific region.

While it is still in a "concept stage" the airport's senior executives have been presenting the plan to investors in Auckland today.

It allows for new or extended aircraft piers with provision for new hotels and commercial space next door. The airport is also allowing for a train terminal although says any rail link would have to be built by central or local government.

Chief executive Adrian Littlewood said the development of the airport represented an "incredible" opportunity.

"We don't know what the future holds and how people will travel but there will be change and we've got to allow for that," he said.

Forecasts suggest the number of passenger movements through the airport will increase from around 14.5 million to 40 million by 2044 and the airport says it needs to plan for sufficient infrastructure to cope with that growth.

In its presentation the company said investment was expected to be staged to provide a reasonable price path and a fair return.

"Our 30-year vision is not a confirmed capital expenditure plan."

Littlewood said that passengers would end up paying for the development but "high level analysis" suggested increase in charges would be in line with rises in the consumer price index.

"Passengers pay ultimately - we're very aware of that but people accept if they want a great airport facility there is a cost to that."

The company says it does not expect to have to build a second runway until around 2025. In 2009 the company put the brakes on second runway development because of a drop-off in the rate of aircraft movement growth but passenger growth was increasing at a higher rate, mainly because of bigger planes.

The presentation says the relatively unobstructed state of the international terminal provided a "rare opportunity" to create a uniquely New Zealand environment.

Plans allow for a stand of native trees and plants at the entrance of the building.

The new domestic area would be at the southern end of the new building the project allows for a train terminal although any rail link would have to be built by local or central government.

Just on $30 million is being spent on another upgrade of the existing domestic terminal. It could become a cargo terminal or be demolished under the new strategy.

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