The biggest redevelopment in Auckland Airport’s 57-year history is underway, work having begun on the construction of a new domestic terminal.

Auckland Airport has been consulting with its major airline customers since May 2011 on a replacement for the ageing domestic terminal and its plans to build an integrated terminal. Over that time 21 concept designs have been developed by the 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,” said Patrick Strange, Auckland Airport’s Chair.

“Every dollar we spend on this infrastructure will serve travellers, airlines and New Zealand well into the future.

“It will ensure New Zealand’s main gateway is resilient and sustainable, supporting airline ambitions for a low-carbon future and strengthening our infrastructure in the face of increasingly severe weather events due to climate change.”

Following an earlier decision in 2019, the Auckland Airport Board has reaffirmed its commitment to the integration of domestic and international travel, giving approval for the project to move into the final stages of design as part of a circa $3.9bn construction programme to take place over the next five to six years (this includes the circa $2.2bn combined terminal plus a number of other key projects associated with that development).

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

The integration programme is also an important enabler in allowing Auckland Airport to carry out key upgrades on the airfield to ensure the airport remains resilient.

“This is all about building the gateway Auckland and New Zealand need,” said Carrie Hurihanganui, Auckland Airport’s chief executive.

“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.

“They’re asking for a domestic facility that offers modern spaces, efficient passenger processing areas, improved bathroom facilities and faster baggage systems, as well as better connections between domestic and international travel and via public transport and the city.

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


Benefits of the new terminal
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.

“It will make travel easier and faster, cutting 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 will save time and reduce stress at either end of a flight. There will be faster links to public transport via the new Transport Hub we are building on the doorstop of the international terminal. We will also provide new gates and other facilities to help airlines smooth and speed-up turn-around times,” Hurihanganui explained.

Pre-COVID, 62% of all domestic passengers in New Zealand passed through Auckland Airport each year.

The new combined terminal will add floor space across two levels to the existing international terminal building, with the wider integration programme including significant upgrades to airfield pavement, underlying utilities, and employing 2,000 people at the height of construction.

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.


Low carbon future
“Sustainability is a priority for us – this investment will help us move towards climate change goals and create a more sustainable airport,” said Hurihanganui.

“We have worked very closely with major airlines to understand their needs and requirements, including the investment they’re making in larger domestic aircraft, and their planned future low carbon aircraft. We are supporting airlines by installing ground power units at each gate to supply power to aircraft, helping to reduce fuel use.

“Without the right airport infrastructure any airline aspirations to a low carbon future will not be achieved,” Hurihanganui said.

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.

“We recognise that in today’s environment price changes are challenging. As we step forward, we are ambitious but mindful of cost, ensuring our infrastructure programme is fit for purpose,” she added.

While the new combined terminal is under construction, domestic travel will continue to operate from the existing domestic terminal.

Image: Auckland Airport