Auckland Airport is about to build what's shaping as the country's biggest driveway as part of its multi-billion dollar transformation.
More than a quarter of a million tonnes of concrete will by poured by an Australian contractor to form a new taxiway to eventually link the existing runway and the new northern runway planned for completion around 2028.
In what will be one of the biggest projects since the airport opened in 1966, there will also be room for six hard stands, allowing for the largest aircraft to park to be serviced between flights.
Andre Lovatt, Auckland Airport's general manager, airport development and delivery, said having more space to park planes would make use of gates more efficient. This would not mean more use of buses, which are unpopular with passengers.
He could not put a figure on the cost of the job, but it would be ''several hundred million dollars".
The airfield development is the first of eight major infrastructure projects the company will start over the next decade and follows the completion of major upgrades to the international terminal over the past four years.
The taxiway and hardstand project would cover more than 250,000sq m, equivalent to the area of about 30 rugby fields, at the western end of the airport beside the international terminal.
This will add more than 18 per cent paved surface area to the airfield.
A slipform machine — which produces large concrete slabs — will lay concrete half a metre thick.
Lovatt said there would be 7.5km of stormwater drainage and 2.2km of fuel pipelines below the taxiway surface.
Because it was a "green field" site there would be no disruption to aircraft movements and construction machinery could access the site away from busy roads.
The airport expects the number of passengers to double to 40 million by 2044 and the international terminal development in the "Airport of the Future" will eventually be stretched north of the current terminal.
"The remote stands are designed to give us some headroom, so that one day they can become physically connected gates to the terminal, as growth in airline and passenger numbers demands it over time," said Lovatt.
The new taxiway will be built to accommodate the world's largest passenger planes with a wingspan of 65m to 80m, including the "Code F" planes, Airbus A380s and the Boeing 777X, which is due to enter commercial service next year.
Construction company CPB Contractors was selected to do the work. Lovatt said there had been other New Zealand contractors in the running but the Australia-based company had the best submission.
The airport has faced tight supply of labour and companies to do work over the past two to three years but with road building starting to slow in the next few years Lovatt said more workers and companies were coming available.