Auckland Airport in New Zealand is set to begin the budgeted and planned NZD26m runway pavement replacement work in two weeks amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The reduction in flights, particularly large long-haul aircraft, due to the global pandemic outbreak presented an opportunity for the airport authorities to have another look at the proposed construction windows.

Auckland Airport Development and Delivery general manager André Lovatt said: “We’ve experienced a significant reduction in flights and passenger numbers, with aircraft movements currently 90%-95% lower than a normal busy day.

“This project has been planned for some time, but it was clear that we had an opportunity to bring construction forward to the earliest available time while runway movements are at an all-time low.

“Safety continues to be our number one priority, and I’d like to thank our aviation partners for working alongside us in order to create a robust plan for undertaking this work.”

The project will be delivered by Brian Perry Civil and involves the removal and replacement of 280,36m² of slabs in the eastern end of the touch down zone.

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This heavy industrial-grade pavement will feature 12,000t of concrete laid 500mm thick to withstand landings of some of the heaviest and largest aircraft in the world, taking off at weights of up to 500t.

The project is expected to create employment for 150 people over the next three months.

During the eight to ten-week construction period, aircraft will continue to use the existing runway at Auckland Airport, which will be shortened by 1.1km.

The runway pavement replacement is said to be a critical component of Auckland Airport’s much reduced infrastructure development programme.

Civil Aviation Authority has reviewed and approved the safety case for the runway work.

Airways, Airwork, Air New Zealand, and Federation of Air New Zealand Pilots (FANZP), New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA), Qantas Group and Tasman Cargo Airlines were the aviation partners for the project.