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Future-proofing Tauranga Airport

Contractors are putting the final touches to a major revamp of the Tauranga Airport terminal, which has more than doubled its footprint and is designed to future-proof the regional flight hub for anticipated continued passenger growth.

The massive $13.7 million project is being funded with around $3 million from the airport’s cash reserves, plus financing based on expected revenues over the next decade or so, with key client Air New Zealand having a major input into the concept and execution, including paying for the fitout of its passenger facilities.

The redevelopment has increased the airport’s size from the previous floor area of 1732 sqm, to around 3866 sqm, has created a fresh, contemporary look and has also incorporated a more efficient and flexible processing system for passengers, said Tauranga Airport Authority chief executive Ray Dumble.

“The biggest challenge has been keeping the airport open, operational and safe while we have been carrying out a major construction project,” said Dumble, a former pilot, whose 16 years in charge of the airport have made him intimately familiar with every facet of its operations.

The staff has put up with a lot and we’ve done the best we can to ensure passengers have had minimum disruption. – Ray Dumble

“The staff has put up with a lot and we’ve done the best we can to ensure passengers have had minimum disruption,” he said.

“And the public have been magnificent. I’ve found the people of Tauranga have been particularly understanding. They see the airport changes as a symbol of the city and the region’s growth.”

Our airport keeps pace with the needs and aspirations of the community,” he said.

“It’s great to see the expansion and redevelopment of the airport terminal. It provides additional capacity, a modern environment and is something that the community can be proud of.”

The decision to redevelop the airport came out of its regular review and planning process. The airport is owned by Tauranga City Council, but is a stand alone business unit that requires no ratepayer funding.

The airport currently runs an operating surplus in excess of $1.5 million per annum. It is the eighth busiest airport in the country and the third busiest for general aviation.Its annual revenue is currently $7 million, made up of landing fees, parking charges and rentals. Expenses are made up of administration costs, airfield, runway and building maintenance, depreciation and debt servicing.

Around three years ago, it was time for a scheduled five-yearly master plan review and that showed that the airport was then almost at capacity, said Dumble.

“The airport operates under a master plan, which future-proofs us,” he said.

“We don’t do any haphazard development – we forecast where we want to be.”

Reuben Levermore
Reuben Levermore

Demand for flights into and out of the region continues to strengthen, from both business and leisure travellers. – Reuben Levermore

Strategic review

As it was time for a major strategic review, the airport brought in independent consultants AirBiz and fed in growth and tourism figures, airline growth patterns, migration figures and other relevant data.

“That review showed we were nearly operating at capacity then and would be at capacity by the time we got this built,” said Dumble. “And there were no indications of a slowdown.”

Three years ago, the airport was handling around 280,000 per annum, and numbers were now up to around 430,000 per annum by the end of 2018, he said.

The airport, working with Air New Zealand, chose Auckland-headquartered Jasmax Architects to develop a concept design which met both parties’ needs.

Once the concept was fully developed, it was put out to tender, with Naylor Love winning the role as lead construction contractor.

Dumble noted that they put the tender out to five companies rather than the usual three, to take into account the amount of commercial construction activity in New Zealand. (see accompanying story on the airport’s construction)

He said Air New Zealand, as the key user of the airport, was a significant partner in the process.

“We discussed it with Air New Zealand from the original concept to the final plan to ensure it would reflect its needs going forward,” he said.

David Porter
David Porter
Editor, Bay of Plenty Business News. Email: editor@bopbusinessnews.co.nz

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