Bay of Islands Airport owner and operator Far North Holdings says it hopes to start work at the end of April on expansion of the terminal building there. Work to modernise the facility is expected to be complete by May 2019.
Passenger numbers have grown by a third since Air New Zealand started flying larger aircraft on the Auckland-Kerikeri route, with a record 98,844 people flying into or out of the airport last financial year (1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017).
The expanded airport will have roomier departure and arrival areas, and a separate luggage collection area.
During construction the check-in and departures area will be moved into space currently used by the Bay of Islands Aero Club. Work on converting this area will start shortly and will be complete by the end of March.
Work on the project was originally planned for last year but was pushed back to future-proof the design against the potential introduction of new security requirements for domestic airports in New Zealand.
Far North Holdings chief executive Andy Nock said the winning tender for the construction project would be announced in April.
He said passengers using the temporary departure and arrival facilities were likely to experience some disruption and apologised for this in advance. Far North Holdings is holding a public meeting at the RSA in Kaikohe at 5pm on 5 March and at the Turner Centre in Kerikeri at 5pm on Tuesday 6 March to brief these communities about what travellers can expect during construction, and about what the finished terminal will look like.
Mr Nock said Air New Zealand’s withdrawal from Kaitaia had generated some additional passenger numbers at Bay of Islands Airport but most of the growth was due to an increase in tourism and business traffic between Auckland and the wider Bay of Islands region.
The growth was being enabled by the larger aircraft being operated by Air New Zealand on the Auckland-Kerikeri route and boosted by effective marketing, he said. A close partnership between Air New Zealand and the Bay of Islands Marketing and Promotions Group, an organisation comprising local tourism and hospitality providers, was also having an effect.
Air New Zealand has been operating an additional three flights a week between Auckland and the Bay of Islands since November and the second half of 2017 saw 6,000 more passengers move through the terminal than over the same period in 2016.
“We’re expecting traffic to continue growing in the foreseeable future, with an equal mix between business and leisure travel,” Mr Nock said. “With these sorts of numbers it was essential that we did something to improve and streamline facilities at Bay of Islands Airport.
“I think anyone who’s used the airport in recent times can appreciate that.”