Christchurch Airport opens new terminal building

The new $237M terminal building at Christchurch Airport has been officially opened by the Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key.

Christchurch Airport CEO Jim Boult told 300 guests they were part of a momentous day for the airport.

"New terminals at airports generally only occur every 50 years or so, so you are witness to something special," he said.

"Our old terminal opened in 1960 and was built to handle around 200,000 passengers. These days we handle that number of passengers every 13 days."

Mr Boult shared some statistics with the audience.

"During the construction of this terminal, roughly 44 million visitors have walked through the terminal and almost 300,000 commercial flights operated through here.

"Most remarkably … in spite of the 11,000 earthquakes during construction,   snow storms, volcanic ash clouds and other unforeseen events, we completed this project on the budget set in 2009.

He told the guests the new terminal building is receiving very positive feedback from the travelling public, airlines, border agencies, retail partners and others  and has won critical independent acclaim.

"There is a series of quarterly surveys conducted independently worldwide around major airports. It's the Airport Service Quality surveys, known in the industry as ASQ, and across the past four quarters, despite the fact that we were still a construction zone, Christchurch Airport has emerged as quite simply the best airport in Australasia."

Mr Boult ended his speech with some words for the people of Christchurch.

"I hope you see this as I do - a symbol of our outstanding rebuilt city to come and the first major piece of construction to be completed since February 2011. I sincerely hope it is not 50 years until the next terminal is built - it's my hope that our rebuilt city proves such a drawcard that we run out of room long before that time."

Background facts and figures

The old CIAL domestic passenger terminal was opened in 1960, when annual passenger numbers were only 200,000. In 2010, total passenger numbers reached six million.  Although the old terminal underwent several expansions and upgrades, continuous growth meant it was clearly time to consider a replacement.

Options for replacement began to be considered back in 2003. After a series of assessment and assessment processes, the design was finalised in 2008 and construction began in July 2009.

The new terminal building replaces the old domestic terminal as well as the international check-in and related baggage handling infrastructure. International departure and arrival areas were already adequately sized and so did not need replacement.

The new building therefore needed to be located across the same footprint as the old building and be integrated into the existing international building.  Common or "integrated" facilities that could be shared by domestic and international operations were a design feature.

A significant challenge of the project was the careful staging required to allow airline operations to continue unaffected during the four years of construction. Practical completion of the new terminal building was achieved in stages - the first stage in April 2010 and the final stage in March 2013.

The project budget for the new terminal building and associated works was$237Mand construction was completed within 1% of budget, in spite of the effects of the Canterbury earthquakes.

During the four years of construction,more than 40 million visitorshave passed through the terminal andapproximately 300,000 commercial aircraft movementshave accessed the airport.

The new airport terminal is a sustainable and efficient operation and had to fit with the airport company's environmental policies and carbonZero accreditation.

Travellers rate it the best

The new terminal is a resounding success and is receiving praise from all quarters.  The Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Survey is conducted quarterly across about 200 airports worldwide. It measures overall passenger satisfaction with the airport and by specific service areas including check-in, security, food and beverage facilities and retail facilities. Each airport's performance is measured against others in its country and region.

Across the terminal development, Christchurch Airport's ASQ results showed steady improvement. The most recent quarterly survey business and leisure travellers gave Christchurch Airport thehighest overall satisfaction ratingacross airports in Australasia, a rating echoed by the 2012 annual overall rating.

In the wider context, the Christchurch Airport experience has underscored the reality that airports are a vital piece of infrastructure for any city.  The airport was open within a few hours of the September 2010 quake and open for emergency flights within 90 minutes of the February 22nd 2011 quake.  Medical evacuations and other flights got people out and essential supplies and emergency staff in and CIAL's actions are therefore credited with saving 25 to 30 lives. 

Economic and Financial Factors

Christchurch Airport is New Zealand's second largest airport and welcomes around six million passengers a year.   Another five million come through the airport to greet and farewell those passengers, so that's around 11 million visitors to the campus per year.  Metaphorically, the population of Timaru arrives on the campus daily.

Business and Economic Research Limited (BERL) last year assessed the economic impact of the airport, focussing on additional activity and expenditure generated in the Canterbury region and the wider South Island for the 2010 calendar year as a direct result of the presence of the airport. The assessment found Christchurch Airport generated $1.7 billion in regional GDP.   That's 6% of the total GDP for Canterbury and 3.9% of the total GDP for the South Island as a whole.

In that year, almost 6000 people were employed on the airport campus in full time, part time or casual roles, making it the largest single centre of employment in the South Island.  The airport also created employment for 20,300 full time equivalents on and off campus, which is 8.3% of total FTEs in the Canterbury region and 4.4% of total FTEs for the whole South Island. These figures have been adversely affected by the earthquakes but will show a considerable increase in the future. 

However, there is no doubt the contribution from the airport is significant.  There are two main parts to the contribution - one is activity generated by the expenditure of foreign and domestic tourists who pass directly through the airport.  The other is activity from all operations on the airport - that's support activity such as the operations of the airport itself, aircraft and airfield maintenance etc. 

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