Auckland Airport is closing down a commercial heliport near its international terminal because of construction work.

The heliport was opened three years ago, aimed at wealthy visitors who wanted to get to and from the city or to luxury resorts further afield.

But today the airport company said the site near the terminal is no longer suitable because of large construction projects nearby and the need to protect public safety.

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The airport will keep the heliport open until the end of March 2020, with two pads operational.

''This has not been an easy decision and we realise it will be disappointing for the three main helicopter companies that land at Auckland Airport," said Auckland Airport general manager operations Anna Cassels-Brown.

"That is why we want to give them as much notice as possible. We also want to ensure there will be no disruption to operators' existing bookings over the peak summer period."

The company had been considering the future of its heliport in light of the company's infrastructure development programme.

It is in the middle of a multi billion dollar rebuild. It has airfield works underway near the terminal and following the completion of the departure area has plans for its new international arrivals space, to be built near the northern end of the terminal, near the chopper pads.

There are an average of three helicopter landings per day across the year at Auckland Airport which says it is primarily focused on fixed-wing aircraft, with 180,000 flight movements each year.

The airport company had looked at other locations around the airport precinct but there was no site available for relocation of the heliport.

''Our options have also been limited due to Civil Aviation rules designed to ensure public safety, such as approach requirements preventing helicopters from flying over carparks and buildings.


In addition the airport had considered the risk of not being able to manage helicopter landings efficiently in our airspace and on the runway due to demand for fixed-wing aircraft landings, said Cassrels- Brown.

The apron will continue to be available for helicopter landings beyond March next year for medical transfers.

Helicopters could also land for for private jet connections at the two fixed wing base operators — Swiss port Executive Aviation and Air Center One.

However, these would involve what one operator says is a complicated hover taxi-ing approach and the airport company says these landings would be limited depending on slot availability.

There are a number of alternative heliports available in Auckland, including 15 minutes' drive away from Auckland Airport, or 13km away.

Anna Cassels-Brown, Auckland Airport operations general manager. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Anna Cassels-Brown, Auckland Airport operations general manager. Photo / Jason Oxenham

When the heliport was opened in 2016 it was promoted as a way of catering for the growing luxury tourist market.

Air Center One founder Robin Leach said he was disappointed the heliport would be closing and said demand for high-end transfers was increasing and would continue to grow around the America's Cup and Apec in 2021.

Helicopter Me was the original operator of the port but has moved out.

Richard Poppelwell, chief executive of Helicopter Me, said today while the writing had been on the wall for some time, he had just found out about the decision to close it.

He said he was disappointed but still assessing what it would mean to his business.

Just before its opening the company said about half the passengers would be New Zealanders and the rest from overseas, including just about any of the rich and famous who had passed through the country.

Trips started with a $199 eight-minute hop to Mechanics Bay in Auckland to multi-day flights around New Zealand. The country's top golf courses such as Kauri Cliffs, Wairakei and Cape Kidnappers were popular destinations.