Auckland Airport's international terminal will be split into two separate zones in preparation for safe travel bubbles.

In anticipation of a safe air corridor being formed between New Zealand and the Cook Islands, the airport is preparing to separate different categories of travellers as they pass through the terminal.

Planning is in the final stages, the airport revealed today.

• International Terminal Zone A, Safe Travel area: The main pier to the south (gates 1-10) will be used by people travelling to and from countries with which New Zealand has formed a safe travel bubble. People who have been in New Zealand for more than 14 days and are departing on international flights will also use Terminal A. Retail and food and beverage options will be available

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• International Terminal Zone B, Health Management area: A second self-contained zone will be created out of Pier B (gates 15-18), the pier that points to the west. International Zone B will be used for travellers arriving from countries with which New Zealand does not have a safe travel bubble, and who are required to undergo either managed isolation or quarantine. It will also be used for passengers transiting through Auckland Airport en route elsewhere. With the limited number of transit passengers, food and beverage options will be made available via vending machines

The new zones. Graphic / Auckland Airport
The new zones. Graphic / Auckland Airport

Auckland Airport chief executive Adrian Littlewood said the airport planned to create a safe way for people to travel to and from countries.

"Auckland Airport is a complex eco-system of organisations and we are working closely together to enable the safe and secure movement of travellers," he said.

"Auckland Airport is building the new internal walls to allow for the terminal to be separated, and we are working through the final stages of planning with border agencies and airlines to enable the physical and operational separation."

Other airports also have plans that are well advanced for separating passengers.

Kevin Ward, co-chair of NZAC (New Zealand Aviation Coalition), said New Zealand's international airports have detailed plans to safely separate "Pacific bubble" travellers from those arriving from countries with community transmission cases.

Christchurch, Wellington and Queenstown airports have effective systems in place now and are awaiting approval from government border agencies and health services.

Justin Tighe-Umbers, the other NZAC co-chair, says separating travellers based on their country of origin is important measure in the fight against Covid and airlines are onboard.

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"People want to travel overseas, and getting flights going as soon as it is safe to do so is key. Auckland Airport creating two terminals is an innovative move that will allow airlines to grow capacity as we open up safe zones with other countries," he said.

Wellington Airport says it will be ready immediately to process international travellers when the go-ahead is given.

Chief executive Steve Sanderson said the airport was ready to handle Pacific bubble passengers and would welcome the return of Pacific connections to Wellington.

"All Pacific passengers can be safely processed in the main terminal buildings, with all passengers fully segregated from domestic travellers using an existing movable wall and additional constructed channel. Our plan also enables us to quickly reinstate additional health checks for departing passengers if required".

The limited number of repatriation flights from covid-19 zones into Wellington are handled entirely on the western side of the airport.

This is on the opposite side of the runway from the main terminal and passengers can't mingle with the public or other passengers before being bussed to quarantine facilities".

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"We have worked on this plan with local representatives of border and security agencies over the last week and are now waiting on government approval," said Sanderson.