Multi-billion-dollar investment planned for Auckland Airport

Air New Zealand aircraft at Auckland Airport.
G B_NZ, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Plans are underway for the biggest redevelopment in the history of Auckland Airport since its first opening in 1966.

The multi-billion-dollar facelift will include a brand-new domestic terminal to be fully integrated into the international terminal.

“This is a major investment for Auckland Airport, one which we have been working towards for many years,” said Patrick Strange, Auckland Airport’s Chair.

“The domestic terminal is almost 60 years old and needs replacing. It’s nearing capacity and it’s no longer fit for purpose and hasn’t been for some time. If it wasn’t for the pandemic, we would already be well underway with its replacement.”

A plan over a decade in the making

Auckland Airport has been consulting with its major airline customers since May 2011 on a replacement for the ageing domestic terminal and plans to build an integrated terminal.

Over that time 21 concept designs have been developed by Auckland Airport and discussed with major airlines as part of the consultation process.

“We have worked with major airlines for over a decade on this. We’ve considered all feedback, including potential alternative locations and even further delays to infrastructure development.”

“All of this has been carefully thought through and we have made changes where appropriate, but now we need to get on with it,” Mr Strange said.

Integration of domestic and international terminals

Following an earlier decision in 2019, the Auckland Airport Board has reaffirmed its commitment to the integration of domestic and international travel.

It has given approval for the project to move into the final stages of design as part of a circa $3.9b construction programme to take place over the next five to six years.

The terminal integration programme is a significant part of the airport’s wider 10-year-capital programme.


The move will bring domestic travel and international travel together under the same roof for the first time since 1977, via an expansion at the eastern end of the existing international terminal building.

Carrie Hurihanganui, Auckland Airport’s Chief Executive, observed:

“A new domestic terminal integrated into the international terminal will make Auckland Airport fit for the future, providing a much-improved experience for travellers – something they’ve clearly and repeatedly told us they want.

“In short, renovations just won’t cut it anymore,” Ms Hurihanganui said.

Opening at the end of the decade

Set to open between 2028 and 2029, the combined terminal will serve the larger and more efficient domestic jet aircraft flying to and from Auckland to New Zealand’s other main centres, alongside international operations.

The new layout will cut domestic jet to international transfer times to a five-minute indoor walk. A new check-in experience will provide state-of-the-art facilities for both domestic and international travellers, including the ability to check in and store your bag at any time throughout the day.

Smart baggage systems and faster links to public transport via the new Transport Hub will also streamline passenger movements.

Regional turbo prop flights, those travelling to smaller town centres, will remain in the existing domestic terminal for now, with Auckland Airport currently consulting with major airlines and the Board of Airline Representatives (BARNZ) on the future location for regional travel.

Pre-covid, a total of 9.6 million domestic passengers travelled through the domestic terminal each year, while 11.5 million international passengers (including transits) passed through the international terminal.

Low carbon future

Sustainability remains a key priority at the heart of the multibillion-dollar airport upgrade.

Along with ground power units for aircraft, the upgraded airfield surrounding the new combined terminal will provide charging for electric ground handling equipment and vehicles.

Design and construction materials for the combined terminal will be selected to reduce the building’s carbon footprint as much as possible, alongside a focus on waste minimisation and water efficiency.

Global rebuild of airports

Auckland Airport is not alone in making significant, much needed aeronautical investment.

According to Airports Council International (ACI), globally around $US2.4 trillion needs to be spent on airport infrastructure over the next two decades, more than half of that investment in the Asia Pacific region.

“Airports were built in the 1960s at the dawn of the jet age, and right across the world upgrades are taking place to better serve today’s modern traveller as well as the future of aviation.”

“New airports like Western Sydney in Australia are being built, however, the majority of investment is going into modernising and enhancing existing airports like Auckland Airport,” said Ms Hurihanganui.

The terminal integration programme is a major part of the airport’s wider 10-year capital programme which informs overall airport pricing, something Auckland Airport continues to consult with major airlines on.

By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 6 Min Read
6 Min Read
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