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Airport ready for another busy summer period

22 October 2004

Auckland Airport ready for another busy summer period

Tuesday 26 October marks the beginning of the "Northern Winter Schedule", or the New Zealand summer international airline schedule. This is the busiest time of year for airlines, tourism operators and airports.

Don Huse, Auckland International Airport Limited (AIAL) chief executive officer, comments, "The long term trend has seen growth in passenger numbers of around five to seven per cent, year on year. Last year we saw a 30 per cent increase in international seat capacity, with passenger numbers up 14 per cent .

"This year, it is expected that much of the remainder of those seats will be taken up."

For the year ended 30 June 2004, Auckland International Airport handled 10.8 million passengers. The busiest week during the last summer season saw 140,950 passengers (excluding transit) being processed through the international terminal.

"It was only four years ago that the busiest week of the year (usually in January) broke the 100,000 international passengers mark. Since January 2004, we have seen international passenger numbers dip below 100,000 for just seven weeks - the numbers have remained strong throughout winter."

Auckland International Airport is the entry and exit point for over 70 per cent of visitors to New Zealand. With the sustained increase in passenger numbers, the airport is undertaking a range of significant security and capacity enhancement projects.

By mid-December, the airport company will have: increased the number of Customs and Aviation Security counters and realigned them in the international departure area; increased immigration counters on arrival from 25 to 32 as well as expanded space for Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and Customs operations; completed 12 new check-in counters bringing the total to 96; and built additional aircraft hard stand areas capable of fully-servicing either four B747-sized or six mid-sized aircraft and associated taxiways and roads.

The Government has also recently announced that funding is being made available for 96 more front-line Customs officers and 34 new MAF staff, all due to join the airport community by December.

"The airport company has been working with airlines and government agencies as well as the tourism sector to prepare for the busy summer ahead. We are confident that the airport will provide a fitting welcome to and farewell from New Zealand.

"With continuing construction, Auckland Airport reminds international passengers that check-in counters for each flight are open at least three hours ahead of the departure time." Huse remarks. "We would advise passengers to get here early and relax before their flight rather than run the risk of missing it altogether."

Longer-term construction, programmed for completion by December 2005, includes a second level to the international pier to fully separate arriving and departing passengers and extending the baggage handling system to screen 100 percent of baggage being stowed in aircraft.

To keep the travelling public informed of developments, a website has been established: www.buildingnewzealandsgateway.com will feature regular updates on construction activity and details of the projects being undertaken.

ENDS

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