School holiday surge expected at airport

About 230,000 passenger movements a month are expected in July and August at Queenstown airport...
About 230,000 passenger movements a month are expected in July and August at Queenstown airport and about 206,000 in September. PHOTO: ODT FILES
There will be plenty of people arriving in Queenstown just after the snow arrives but a change in the timing of the school holidays means the airport should be packed.

The airport said in a statement yesterday Australian families have already been flying in for their school holidays and another surge is expected when New Zealand school holidays begin this weekend. However, the holidays are more spread out this year so there will not be such a concentrated peak, the airport said.

The Winter Pride event, starting on August 22 and the Snow Machine Festival early in September will also bring an influx of visitors to Queenstown.

About 230,000 passenger movements a month are expected in July and August, and about 206,000 in September.

Airlines have just boosted capacity for winter. Sundays will be busiest, with 61 flights scheduled.

"The terminal is full, but we love welcoming people for winter holidays, and we’re well-prepared", chief operating officer Todd Grace said.

"Late last year, we completed a master plan that includes an extension to the terminal. That’s definitely needed, and we’re working on the details now, but in the meantime, we are tackling smaller projects to make best use of the space we already have and to improve customer experience."

Bathroom facilities are being refurbished in stages, one set of toilets at a time. Those that are likely to change as part of the terminal development proposed in the master plan are getting fresh paint and a spruce-up, while the others will get a full makeover.

Passengers arriving in Queenstown from Australia need to make a New Zealand traveller declaration.

Changes to the processing of passengers arriving from Australia are being trialled by the border agencies. The introduction of a biosecurity screening point before baggage collection has reduced queuing and sped up processing times.

"Every minute matters when you’re impatient to start your holiday", Mr Grace said.

The trial will continue until July 31 to really test it with peak passenger numbers. If it goes smoothly, the new procedures are likely to become permanent.

Screens in the baggage claim areas now advise when the first and last bags from a flight have been put on the conveyor belt.

Since last winter, a fourth passenger-screening lane has been created and state-of-the-art screening technology has been installed. This allows travellers to leave laptops, iPads and other large electronics in their bags. It is now being used to screen passengers for selected domestic flights.

When it is fully implemented, it is expected to result in faster passenger processing times without compromising security.