Christmas travel chaos after earthquake closes airport

Christchurch airport. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Christchurch airport. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The closure of Christchurch Airport for several hours this afternoon has caused havoc for hundreds travelling to Christmas destinations around the country.

A number of flights out of Auckland Airport to both Christchurch and Wellington were delayed or cancelled this afternoon after Christchurch was hit by a series of large shocks.

The airport has just re-opened after a full systematic assessment of runways, navigation systems and buildings.

Chief Executive Jim Boult said there has been no damage to the airport's runways, which are now open for landings and departures.

Mr Boult says the terminal is open and he expects flight operations to re-commence about 6pm.

"We expect there will be significant delays and some flight cancellations. It's likely to be well into tomorrow before the backlog is cleared," he said.

"People should check with their airlines before going to the airport."

Air New Zealand spokeswoman Tracey Palmer said the airline had postponed an unknown number of flights to and from Christchurch.

At least 10 flights out of Christchurch have been listed as cancelled on the airline's website, meaning hundreds of people will be affected by not being allowed to travel.

Two Qantas flights have been cancelled: QF 45 and QF 46.

Christchurch airport has been tweeting throughout the closure, updating people online as to the progress of the airport.

At about 3:20pm today, the airport tweeted: "Christchurch Airport will re-open ASAP, we hope this will happen in a few hours."

At 4:15pm today, the airport remained closed, and the website advised passengers to check with their airlines about their flight's status, but the airport then advised that the terminal would open at 5.30pm.

Hundreds of people were left outside the building with their luggage awaiting news on whether they will get to travel to their Christmas destination.

A growing feeling of anger was circulating throughout the mob, said Newstalk ZB reporter Scarlett Cvitanovich

"There's quite a bit of aggression out there. People are asking how they're going to get on flights in time for Christmas and are taking it out on staff at the moment," she said.

- APNZ

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