Hamilton Airport is to undergo a multi-million dollar upgrade to its terminal buildings and carpark as passenger numbers continue to grow.
The work, scheduled to start in early 2020, will take 12-18 months and completely refurbish the terminal.
The project will mean an improved departure area, new furniture, new flooring, new interior colours, more dedicated workspaces with charging units and digital display units to showcase local history, innovation, tourism and events.
The new look will include artwork from Waikato-based artists as well as living green walls.
Stage two of the project is likely to include improvements to the terminal entrance, more landscaping and trees, a pedestrian-friendly plaza and an improved drop-off area for passengers.
Rental cars will be relocated out of the main carpark, the taxi stand will be moved and the road entrance into the airport reconfigured and improved.
Waikato Regional Airport Ltd (WRAL) chief executive Mark Morgan said the investment was being made after strong growth as well a "very solid" forecast increase in passengers.
"Over the past three years we've had a 24 per cent increase in passengers through the airport," Morgan said.
"On all routes, passenger growth has already outstripped the new capacity that was made available over the past 12 months which is phenomenal."
During 2018 passenger numbers on direct flights from Hamilton to Christchurch, Wellington and Palmerston North grew by nine per cent but overall seat capacity grew by only three per cent.
"Hamilton is also ahead of numbers nationally."
In March 2019, Air New Zealand recorded a 4.7 per cent year-on-year increase in domestic passengers. Hamilton Airport recorded a 10 per cent increase over the same period.
"Many peak flights were leaving Hamilton absolutely full which indicates there is demand for more seats," Morgan said.
"So the numbers are very strong and given some of the low fares now available out of Hamilton, we're absolutely confident that if further capacity is added, passenger growth will continue."
Morgan said his team was working with airlines to advocate for more flights from Hamilton.
"We're expecting more capacity between Christchurch and Hamilton over the winter.
"We'd also love to see better connections through to popular destinations like Nelson and Dunedin but those are business decisions for Air New Zealand to make and we respect that."
He said during the refurbishment and terminal upgrade there would be minimal inconvenience to passengers and all flights would operate as usual.
As part of the project, the airport will undertake structural strengthening work to meet new building code standards following the Christchurch earthquakes.
"Hamilton has a relatively low seismic risk, but while we are doing construction work, it makes sense to do that at the same time."
The project would be funded directly by WRAL and would not require any financial support from five shareholding councils — Hamilton City, Ōtorohanga, Waipā, Waikato and Matamata-Piako District Councils.
Tenders for early contractor involvement were already out and he expected a main contractor to be appointed by mid-June. He would not be more specific on costs.
Morgan said a makeover of the Hamilton Airport Hotel announced in February was now well underway.
It would offer 4-star conference and accommodation facilities on the airport's doorstep.
"Both projects are hugely exciting for the local economy. Once the terminal upgrade is complete, we'll end up with a really fantastic gateway to the Mighty Waikato and that's something we can all be very proud of. It's a real sign of confidence in the region."