Queenstown Airport plans to expand this year to cater for
growing numbers of international passengers, but a court
verdict may curb its ambitions.
The airport corporation's options to manage growth include
temporary extra space for the peak winter months of July and
August, while a longer-term solution is being developed with
An interim $200,000 mini corporate jet terminal, funded and
managed by Air Center One and Capital Jet Services, is
expected to be operational by March to improve service for
private jet passengers.
Infrastructure projects for the new year include upgrades to
shopping and food and beverage offerings before winter.
Chief executive Scot Paterson said forward schedules showed
''a strong desire'' from the four airlines to continue to
meet rising demand from Australia, the primary market for
Queenstown and New Zealand.
''We're very grateful for their ongoing support and are
working hard to ensure we have the appropriate infrastructure
in place to meet this growth and maintain service levels,''
Mr Paterson said.
However, hundreds of Australian passengers arrive at the
airport at peak times, which puts pressure on staff and
facilities, but means the terminal is a lot quieter at other
times of the day.
Mr Paterson said asset utilisation and capital efficiency is
a concern of board members.
''Optimisation of our capacity is really important for us, so
we get to handle more people through the existing terminal.
"However, it is a very delicate thing, going to the airlines
and saying `can you change your behaviours and your
passengers' behaviours to suit us','' he said.
''We haven't taken that approach and in the next few years I
don't think we will.''
The airport had its busiest year on record in 2013 with a
5.1% increase in passenger movements compared to the previous
Figures for December 2013 complete the last calendar year and
show a total of 1,215,526 domestic and international
passengers passed through the airport terminal, compared to
1,156,250 in 2012.
A contributor was month-on-month transtasman passenger growth
which jumped 30.9% from 215,300 to 281,761 in a year.
Asked what his hopes were for Queenstown Airport in January
2015, Mr Paterson said the upgrade of public areas in the
terminal would be completed and building work would be
progressing to expand international facilities and handle
''This time next year, if we had our way, we would be
planning to receive evening flights for June to September
2015,'' Mr Paterson said.
''Is there a safety case that is acceptable to the regulator
and, if we get a principle agreement, then what
infrastructure do we need and is there a business case to put
it in place?
''Will the airlines apply to fly to Queenstown after dark? I
think there's a level of interest.''
The airport corporation's bid in the Environment Court to
compulsorily acquire land for expansion, designated lot 6,
against the wishes of the landowner, Remarkables Park Ltd, is
expected to heard in Queenstown in March.
''Alastair Porter [Remarkables Park Ltd co-director] and I
will be surveying earthworks on lot 6, though that might be
down on the wish list, rather than things I have direct
control over,'' Mr Paterson said.
''The new aviation precinct, including corporate jets, would
then allow us to plan with a lot of confidence how the
terminal and our land facilities are going to expand.''