Araminta Wilson received a big surprise when she picked up her suitcase at Hawke's Bay Airport this morning.

After studying political science in Sweden she flew 38 hours to Hawke's Bay to win a prize for being the first passenger to collect luggage from the Hawke's Bay Airport's new arrivals hall.

"I thought someone famous was on the flight due to the paparazzi," the Otane woman said.

Araminta Wilson is presented with a $500 gift voucher from HB Airport commercial manager Dean Smith and Ovation's marketing executive Renae Burridge. Photo / Duncan Brown
Araminta Wilson is presented with a $500 gift voucher from HB Airport commercial manager Dean Smith and Ovation's marketing executive Renae Burridge. Photo / Duncan Brown

She was presented with a $500 Ovation NZ Lamb gift voucher from airport commercial manager Dean Smith and Ovation's marketing executive Renae Burridge.

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"I had no idea what was happening, I just thought the airport was looking pretty swish, all looking very new."

In a first for Hawke's Bay, the new arrivals hall features an automated baggage system with a carousel to collect luggage from, replacing the old tractor and trailer.

Airport chief executive Stuart Ainslie said the arrivals hall is stage one of an airport expansion, to cater for a projected passenger number of one million a year by 2025.

"The tractor trailer has been effective but with a significant increase in passengers it's time to say goodbye and to welcome an automated system that has the capacity to handle 2.5 million bags a year," he said.

The $20 million expansion, due to be completed by mid 2020, is being financed by the airport "thanks to a strong balance sheet" and is an increase on an already-planned expansion.

"We've seen unprecedented growth of 47 per cent over the last three years, so around about eight months ago we started to look at the scope and capacity of the terminal and we actually looked at resetting the vision to one million dollars passengers a year, so we've upgraded the terminal expansion."

Stage two of the expansion, a new departures hall, was due to be open in August this year he said.

"Stage three, which is probably the most complicated part of the project, will be to reconfigure the whole internal space."

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Completed infrastructural upgrades include increased car parking and a new entrance way for the Napier airport.

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