Airport growth set to continue
It’s safe to say we’ve had a big year at Queenstown Airport in many ways. Investment in infrastructure and record breaking passenger numbers early in January set the airport up for another bumper year of growth and expansion.
Following the $19.65m runway and lighting infrastructure upgrade, after-dark flights began in May and June to much fanfare. It was a huge step for the airport and district, cementing our position as the fourth largest airport in the country.
After-dark flights will continue to support more than just the airport. Longer operating hours, more flights and increased passengers ensure businesses across the district benefit, including the region’s ski resorts which all reported strong winter numbers.
Our airport community also grew from 350 to 500 people, establishing QAC as one of the region’s biggest employers. With an all-time high in August of 1.7 million passengers for the previous 12 month period, the airport is set to continue this phenomenal growth next year.
Such amplified growth presents us with some challenges and opportunities which we embrace as we continue to engage with the communities that we serve and navigate our way through periods of planned growth. Our ultimate goal is to ensure all our visitors have a memorable experience when arriving or flying from Queenstown Airport.
At the beginning of this year we committed to a number of initiatives to better understand and provide short term solutions for the increased demand on car parking at the airport.
Completed in November, our staged car parking expansion works added approximately 50 spaces – an increase of over 10 per cent in the short and long term parking areas.
We also conducted research over two months this winter on people using SH6 for parking spaces. While around half of the users were parking on SH6 instead of using the airport parking, the other half were parking for less than three days and many for just a day. Solutions to the current Frankton parking environment is a shared goal and a focus for all parties involved.
We are also active in conversations around an airport park and ride trial which would offer an affordable, long term parking solution and we anticipate making a decision on this next year.
We’ve achieved a lot in a short period. This will continue in the New Year with works to improve vehicle flow at the airport entrance, establishment of a new roundabout, relocation of the coach parks to Chris Read Green and the addition of a dual lane to part of the access road.
Ultimately these works will enable us to re-instate the public drop-off lane directly outside the terminal, something which we know is of great importance to our visitors.
Colin Keel is chief executive of the Queenstown Airport Corporation.