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Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

Auckland Airport squeeze means more passengers on buses

Auckland Airport says this summer will be extremely busy and more passengers will be on buses to its terminals. Photo / Richard Robinson.
Auckland Airport says this summer will be extremely busy and more passengers will be on buses to its terminals. Photo / Richard Robinson.

Auckland Airport warns passengers will have to get used to more busing from planes to terminals as the number of new services soars.

A shareholder at the company's annual meeting today said using buses to get passengers to the terminal was "Mickey Mouse" and "Third World" for tourists.

"The airport is there to service passengers not to have a multi-million dollar terminal with flash shops inside," he said.

However, the company's chief executive Adrian Littlewood said the percentage of passengers put on buses was low by international standards. Overseas airports used buses for up to half their passengers, while at Auckland they were used in about 5 per cent of the cases.

Previously this has been around 2 per cent.

Passengers were being bused to Jetstar's regional terminal and at the international terminal it was a by-product of the phenomenal growth that has come on in the past year, he said.

During the past financial year total passenger numbers were up 9 per cent to 17.3 million. Eight new airlines announced services during the year and since June 30 two more had said they are coming here.

"Infrastructure takes a lot longer to turn up than the planes that are arriving here," said Littlewood after the meeting.

The airport is in the midst of a big capital spending programme which includes improving the departure and security screening areas and $30 million to $40m on remote stands so planes can be moved to them to free up gates.

Littlewood warned this summer would be extremely busy on some days and the company had a number of initiatives underway to help passengers through the airport.

Remote check-in was now available at park and ride areas and bigger monitors would be installed so passengers wouldn't crowd in certain areas.

It was likely passengers would be advised of which days would be especially busy so they could plan to turn up earlier.

During the meeting a shareholder, who is also an airport volunteer Blue coat, said many arriving passengers were upset at poor Wi-Fi at the airport.

There is free access for just 30 minutes in public areas. She said passengers arriving from overseas were used to unlimited internet access.

But Littlewood said equipment was being upgraded as part of the airport rebuild but there were problems making it free.

"I think you do have to be careful - I've been to many airports overseas that do claim to have free Wi-Fi and it's awful. Everyone is soaking it up and using it for TV and downloads."

Capital spending for the 2017 financial year is expected to be the highest in a decade at between $330m and $370m.

The airport's chairman Sir Henry van der Hayden said the company remained on course for an underlying profit of between $230m and $240m, up from $212m in the past year.

- NZ Herald

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