The finalized master plan will be published at the end of the year.

Queenstown Airport
Photo: messi50mm/Shutterstock

New Zealand’s Queenstown Airport has released its draft master plan for public consultation, which includes a terminal extension, parallel taxiway, improved transit connections and much more. Let’s take a closer look below.

Queenstown Airport publishes master plan

Following the release of its 10-year strategic plan last year, Queenstown International Airport’s (ZQN) master plan provides the roadmap to make this vision a reality. The $350 million draft plan proposes a range of improvements “to be delivered incrementally” over the next 10 years.

Air New Zealand Queenstown takeoff

Photo: stockphoto mania / Shutterstock

As reported by Crux, Queenstown Airport CEO Glenn Sowry said,

“So this master plan…is almost like the playbook for how we’re physically going to deliver that 10-year strategic plan and beyond. Even if we wanted to, there’s not the capacity available in the region for us to just go, ‘Bang, we’re gonna do it all in a year or two’. And, so, a really busy year, there might be $30 or $40 million of investment. And other years, it might be a bit less.”

The airport’s existing terminal facility will be expanded by around 15% – from 18,000 sq m to 21,000 sq m – to accommodate growth estimates, which will see footfall rise from 2.4 million to 3.2 million per year by 2032. Other proposals include a new parallel taxiway, the relocation of general aviation facilities further away from residential areas, an extra aircraft parking stand and the installation of Engineered Materials Arresting Systems (EMAS) at the ends of each runway – a first for Australasia.

The plan will also see the development of “green links” – connections to local walking and cycling trails – and a ferry jetty on Lake Wakatipu to encourage more active and sustainable transit to/from the airport. Currently, just 2% of passengers use active or public transport, which ZQN aims to boost up to 18% (3% cycling and 15% public transport) by 2032. Queenstown’s tourism board wants the region to become a zero-carbon destination by 2030, so cutting down on emissions at its primary airport is obviously key.

Prepared for technology developments

Cleaner technologies are being developed rapidly in the aviation industry, backed by airlines, airports, governments and other industry players – flag carrier Air New Zealand recently unveiled its ambitious zero-emission plans and has signed letters of intent with four manufacturers.

queenstown airport master plan

Photo: Queenstown Airport

No one quite knows which new technology will rise to prominence, but Queenstown will be ready. The master plan keeps space available for future technological developments – such as greater SAF usage, and electric or hydrogen vehicles – allowing the airport to adapt when necessary.

Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) board chairwoman Adrienne Young-Cooper said,

“We are on the verge of global changes to the aviation sector as the focus on decarbonization and innovative technology escalates. It is, therefore, important to have a master plan for an airport that is future-ready and continues to contribute to the social and economic wellbeing of the region over the long term.”

The airport has already implemented a range of tech upgrades in the customer experience department, including self-check-in kiosks and automated bag drops, along with a revamp of the terminal’s domestic departure and screening area.

Growth limits

One of the biggest decisions made by airport chiefs over the pandemic was to plan for “modest growth,” rather than an expand-at-all-costs approach. Queenstown’s previous master plan – released in 2018 – was met with criticism after projecting a doubling of flights to one every four minutes, and up to five million passengers annually by 2045.

Queenstown Airport

Photo: Queenstown Airport

Sowry told RNZ,

“There’s no question that Queenstown Airport’s relationship with the community was damaged five years ago when we were talking about significant growth.”

The new master plan aims to remain within Queenstown’s existing noise boundaries for the next ten years, with the airport consulting extensively with the community.

Are you excited to see what happens at Queenstown International Airport over the next 10 years? Let us know in your thoughts in the comments.

Source: RNZ, Crux


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