Four years ago, Auckland Airport realised a big problem was building in its international check-in areas.

Near double-digit growth in passenger numbers was taking off, the arrival of eight new airlines in a short period and a sharp expansion in the number of routes meant international check-in wasn't the experience travellers wanted. And check-in came after what was often a tough trip to the airport on increasingly congested roads.

By 2017, with the "golden age of travel'' well under way and the airport years away from making a call on expanding its terminal, it had limited options. It had to

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