AVIATION

Airport upgrade design process underway

Thursday 21 July 2016, 3:47AM
By Community Taranaki
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NEW PLYMOUTH

New Plymouth Airport's 50-year-old terminal is set for redevelopment and design work is under way with a plan to commence construction in 2017, following year long delays due to lengthy waits to gain Government approval, and Jetstar beginning direct services out of New Plymouth.

The existing terminal was designed in 1965 when annual passengers were 50,000 but, with this years numbers expected to hit 400,000, there is an urgent need to address the over-capacity issues of an outdated building. The new terminal will be much larger than the existing and will have a more open-air aspect with glazed walls and less internal obstructions.

Jetstar will move out of the temporary Terminal 2 into the new terminal and Air New Zealand will take the opportunity to expand the Koru Lounge. There will also be more space for the café, new retail areas and the ability to create a passenger security screening area if required in the future.

The project also includes more space for parking of aircraft on the apron and improvements to the public car parking areas.

Multi million dollar airport upgrade plans made in 2015 had to be rubbished when Jetstar announced they were commencing direct services between New Plymouth and Auckland in 2016. 

Since then, passenger numbers have risen by more than 20% on 2016 months compared to the year before. 

Taranaki political advocate Michael Riley is now adamant that nothing will get in the way of a 2017 construction start.

"Now with Jetstar settled into the temporary terminal, and the Government finally giving approval, designs can be completed, and construction can finally commence."

When asked if Jetstar would expand its New Plymouth networks before construction begun, he said the terminal doesn't have enough space currently. 

"Personally, I don't think the temporary terminal has enough space to cater for another destination at this stage, and Jetstar will most likely look at waiting till upgrades are completed."

"As it is, it can be standing room only in both Jetstar's temporary terminal, and the main terminal, so it would need to be a thought out decision." 

"However it's not really for me to predict as that is an operational matter," Riley said. 

A fourth service between New Plymouth and Auckland that was originally due to start late this year has since been cancelled.