Queenstown International Airport is a small airport situated in the Otago area of New Zealand near Frankton serving the area of Queenstown.

The airport has three runways: the main runway being 05R/23L 6,204ft (1,891m) long and paved in asphalt, and the two remaining runways being grass and used for private charter flights and helicopter flights (05L/23R 2,625ft (800m) and 14/32 3,097ft (944m)).

The airport handled 599,000 domestic passengers and 54,000 international passengers in 2007 (up 22% from 584,000 domestic and 44,000 international in 2006).

As passenger numbers are on the increase the airport, which is owned by Queenstown Airport Corporation Ltd, made a decision in 2004 to carry out a $31m upgrade of the terminal and also an extension of the terminal apron for international flights.

Most of the international flights are by tourists coming for the skiing season during the winter season when Qantas and Air New Zealand lay on extra flights. Otherwise there is the scheduled three times weekly flight to Sydney, Australia. The terminal upgrade was opened by the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, in September 2007.

QUEENSTOWN UPGRADE

The upgrade of the terminal was undertaken in four stages so that disruption to operations would be minimised. The first two stages involved the forecourt layout and the passenger arrival (pick up, new arrivals hall) and departure areas at a cost $20m. The remaining two stages included road (new ring road), extensive landscaping and parking improvements (number of parking spaces increased to 700), noise reduction and a new bus pick-up area (landside improvements) costing $11m.

The ultimate goal of the project was to more than double the floor area of the existing single-storey terminal to give more space for increasing passenger numbers (new floor area is 9,000m² from 3,200m²). There have been improvements in security screening areas, check-in, baggage handling systems have been redeveloped and the retail offerings have increased at the airport as well as the passenger lounges (Koru Lounge) being improved. The shops and kiosks include: newsagent, vehicle and skiing rentals, clothing shops, coffee shop, bar and tour counter.

In addition the helicopter and light aircraft charter operations were relocated to make a better use of the available area.

The project was first planned in July 2004, when the budget and schedule were agreed. Arrow International was the project manager for the expansion and Peak Projects International Ltd were project consultants and advisors. The construction work was carried out by Romulus. The airport has also had a new Scania Buffalo fire truck delivered in September 2007 worth $870,000 and so safety across the airport has been improved even more.

NEW CHALLENGES

“Most of the Queenstown International flights are by tourists coming for the skiing season.”

One of the next challenges for the airport will be the recently increased RESA (Runway Emergency Safety Area), which mean that the main airstrip will have to be increased in length by 90m before 2011. This might have to be into the nearby Shotover River so it is not as easy as might be thought; a land reclaim of one million cubic metres might be the only option.

The airport may also develop 33 business units on an 18ha site close to the airport to increase business in the area.