An avian-inspired Hawke's Bay Airport terminal project is due to start next month and be completed in 2019.

It will be 52 per cent bigger than the current terminal and modelled on the wings of a resident bird that migrates to Alaska.

Demand is the driver for the multi-million-dollar expansion.

Hawke's Bay Airport chief executive Nick Story said annual passenger numbers have risen 37 per cent over the last two years to 652,000.

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"We have had exponential growth over the last couple of years due to a significant increase in airline capacity, driven by the arrival of a second airline in Jetstar, and Air New Zealand switching to aircrafts with larger capacity, all of which has created competition for passengers and enabled growth of the regions business and tourism sectors," he said.

"This will be our most significant upgrade since 2003 and we are creating an entirely new terminal experience with the departure and arrival areas to be reconfigured."

Check-in areas and will be at the southern end of the terminal and a new automated baggage handling system at the opposite end.

There will also be a dedicated arrivals gate instead of the current practice of departures and arrivals from the same gate.

New facilities include a cafe for 110 people and offices for Air New Zealand, Jet Star and Sounds Air which flies direct to Marlborough.

A welcoming terminal was a priority, as was future-proofing, he said.

"The new terminal has been designed in a way that we can cater for further growth. The majority of the complex design elements are in the centre of the building making additional expansion to the north comparably simple and cost efficient."

The project will be funded by the airport company, which is owned by Government, Napier City Council and Hastings District Council.

The design, by PMA architect Chris Ainsworth and artist Jacob Scott, a Mana Ahuriri representative, was inspired by the kuaka, a godwit which resides at the nearby Ahuriri estuary.

Carving inside the terminal will further echo the kuaka-inspired terminal design.

"There is a lot of history with aviation and flight in this area, whether it be bird or plane, so the idea is to carve the plywood ceiling and utilise the texture of the underside of the kuaka wings to tell a cultural story," Mr Scott said.

Mr Story said construction will be in stages to minimise disruption. The check-in area will remain in place while its replacement is built and temporary facilities for baggage claim, a small cafe and a temporary Air New Zealand lounge will be built outside the terminal.

The project is currently out to tender with the lead contractor to be appointed in early October.

A new entranceway to the airport is under construction at the intersection of Watchman Rd, SH2 and Meeanee Quay, due for completion in August next year.