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School holiday travel squeeze: Auckland Airport warns of busiest day for flying

Grant Bradley,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 Apr 2024, 3:59pm

School holiday travel squeeze: Auckland Airport warns of busiest day for flying

Grant Bradley,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 Apr 2024, 3:59pm

This weekend will be among the busiest of the school holidays at Auckland Airport with close to the population of Tauranga expected to arrive and depart across the airport.

The company is warning that anyone dropping off or picking up from the international terminal needs to be aware of big changes following the opening of its new transport hub.

Auckland Airport chief customer officer, Scott Tasker, said while the number of flights and seat capacity was lower than at the same time pre-pandemic, the airport will still be busy as the school holidays start.

“Although available flights are still nearly 15 per cent down on pre-pandemic figures, our projections are those flights will be full. Between the domestic and international terminal, the equivalent of the population of Tauranga (about 160,000) will arrive and depart over these three days.”

The single busiest day for international departures will be Sunday, April 14 and Sunday, April 28 will be the busiest day for international arrivals.

Friday, April 19 will be the busiest day for domestic departures and Thursday, April 11 will be the busiest day for domestic arrivals.

The airport, airlines and border agencies will be hoping for smoother travel for passengers than at some peak periods in the past two years.

Staff shortages, equipment failures, rebuilding work at the airport and bad weather have plagued the aviation system during its recovery from the pandemic, often hitting when passenger numbers peak.

Auckland International Airport's new Transport Hub. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Auckland International Airport's new Transport Hub. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Auckland Airport said Australia, China, the United States, Singapore, and Fiji are the top five international destinations. Christchurch, Wellington, Queenstown, Dunedin, and Nelson are the top five domestic destinations from the airport.

Tasker said for many international travellers it will be their first opportunity to experience the new undercover public drop-off and pick-up area within the new Transport Hub.

Built over the site of what was the main international terminal car park, the Transport Hub has separate public, valet, and commercial traffic lanes, plus bus stops for public transport and scheduled buses.

The old drop-off and pick-up area in front of the terminal is now closed to allow for upgrades to support a new domestic terminal integrated into the international terminal - at the centre of a bitter fight with airlines over its cost.

“While the Transport Hub provides a much-improved traveller experience to the old drop-off and pick-up area, it is a big change so something to be aware of if you’re driving in to farewell or collect friends and whānau on international flights these holidays,” Tasker said.

Building the Transport Hub continues on the levels above with parking floors and an office building for airport operational teams opening later this year.

Air New Zealand says that throughout its network, about 52,000 passengers will be flying this Friday, and the same number again the following Friday.

Over the two-week holiday period, Air New Zealand is expecting 790,000 customers in total (up 13 per cent from the 2023 April school holidays) – 519,000 travelling within Aotearoa, and 271,000 flying to international destinations.

The most popular overseas spots for the school holidays are Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Singapore and Los Angeles.

“Our team will be working hard to ensure our customers receive the best flying experience – including the more than 4000 unaccompanied minors and 250 pets travelling with us during this time,” said Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty.

Auckland Airport’s tips for travellers

∗ The Transport Hub is now open at the international terminal, with new undercover lanes for drop-off and pick-up, plus taxi, rideshare and shuttle drop-off, Auckland Airport valet and bus services all undercover.

∗ New pedestrian walkways connect the international terminal to parking and the pick-up zone for taxis, shuttles and rideshare. If you’d prefer to catch a bus to the pick-up zone or carparks D and E, catch the blue shuttle bus outside the main arrivals door – that’s door 11

∗ Staff will be on hand to help people navigate the new Transport Hub and answer any questions

∗ The easiest way to pick up arriving passengers is to use one of two waiting zones. Located just a few minutes’ drive from either terminal, the zones give you 30 minutes free parking until your traveller lets you know they’re ready and waiting for pick-up. Look for the bright pink Wait Zone signs

∗ When you’re packing your bags, double-check to make sure that what’s in your luggage can be carried on an aircraft. ( Aviation Security removes around 130,000 noncompliant items a year from passenger bags). And when you’re at the airport, help speed up the security process by getting ready for screening – get your laptop out of its case, empty keys, coins and phones from your pockets, and listen for staff instructions.

∗ The Sunflower Hidden Disability lanyard is recognised at Auckland Airport. Check out the resources and support available to help make travel easier for those with invisible disabilities

∗ Complete the NZ Travel Declaration Card before your international flight to New Zealand.

Grant Bradley has been working at the Herald since 1993. He is the Business Herald’s deputy editor and covers aviation and tourism.

This story was originally published on the Herald, here

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