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Airport Opens Secure Area For Charity Ball

Airport Opens Secure Area For Charity Ball

Christchurch International Airport will welcome 430 guests to its international departure lounge this Saturday night (October 13, 2011).

Nothing unusual in that, you might think, except none of them will be there to catch a plane.

They’ll be arriving with only wraps and clutch purses as luggage, to attend the annual Child Cancer Foundation “Beads of Courage” Charity Ball - the first event of its kind to have been hosted inside a security controlled area at any airport anywhere in the world.

Airport Operations General Manager, Andy Lester, says the logistics of organising and catering for an event, in an area which is normally off-limits to all but passengers, has proven somewhat challenging.

“This is not, after all, what an international airport lounge is designed for and it has proven more difficult than we initially thought to get everything to a stage where we are comfortable we will be able to not only maintain the integrity of our operation, but also deliver as hosts.”

The airport company has only a 12 hour window between international departures in which to turn its fully functioning international departure area into a function venue and back again.

“Because we won’t have access to the lounge until after our last flight leaves at 4:30 that afternoon, we are having to store all the tables, chairs, cookers, chillers and food and drink needed for the function in a staging area ready to set up as soon as the area has been checked and cleared.

“And it is only when the last guest leaves at midnight that we will be able to pack the area down again, and have it checked and cleared, in time for passengers coming leaving on our first fight out again at 4:30 the next morning.”

Security checks have also had to be arranged for all those bringing supplies and equipment in for the event. This includes caterers, lighting, sound technicians and equipment suppliers.

Andy Lester says while no international flights are scheduled to land or depart during the evening itself, the airport company has also had to plan for potential disruptions to its schedule which may bring unexpected traffic to the airport.

“We are conscious of what might happen if, for example, Emirates was delayed in leaving, or if another flight was forced to divert to Christchurch for some reason and how we would then maintain the proper separation between ball guests and the travelling public, within the lounge area.”

The prospect of earthquakes or fire is another significant consideration that has had to be taken into account.

The “Beads of Courage” ball for Child Cancer, a black-tie affair, has been held annually for the past eight years, but Funding and Business Development Manager, Clare Wilkinson says they were having to consider cancelling this year, following the series of devastating earthquakes which had left them without an appropriate venue.

“We had booked for the Hotel Grand Chancellor, where we held the event previoulsy, but of course that is now awaiting the wreckers ball. And the Art Gallery and Rydges Hotel, where the event was hosted over the last two years, were also not able to be used.

“That is why we are so thrilled the airport has been able to offer its facility for the event. Not only is it a very special venue, but the very generous offer could not have come at a better time, ensuring we will be able to source at least some funds to help us continue our work.

“We very much appreciate there have been some real logistical challenges to work through and are just so grateful for the outstanding support we have received from all those involved to ensure a grand night to remember. “

Because of the quakes, the Foundation has had to cancel its annual street appeal and a number of other fundraising events, which would normally collectively contribute around $120,000 to its operating budget

Because it has also been displaced twice now, it is also unable to offer a place for families to take time away from the hospital or to run support groups out of.

Christchurch International Airport Company Chief Executive, Jim Boult, says despite the logistical challenges the Airport is pleased to be able to lend its facility to help out the charity.

“They were clearly struggling to find a suitable venue following the series of devastating earthquakes, and while this is very new to us, we are excited to have been able to come to the rescue. We are after all, a part of Christchurch, and committed to helping it get back on its feet again.

“This is unchartered territory for us and not something we plan to make a habit of. But these are extraordinary times and it may well be that we would consider doing something similar again, under similar circumstances. “

Jim Boult gratefully acknowledges the support of airport staff, including cleaning and fire crews, Airlines, and Aviation Security, New Zealand Customs, MAF, JR Duty Free and OCS, without whom he says the event could not have happened.

“Just as they did during the response and recovery period following the actual earthquake events, our staff have again stepped up to the mark and done a fantastic job putting everything together. We just hope everyone has a fantastic time.”

Funds from the Ball go directly to the Child Cancer Foundation to assist with the financial and emotional support f children with cancer and their families.

Christchurch International Airport – New Zealand’s Tourism Gateway
Christchurch International Airport welcomed 6 million passengers in 2009/2010, ranking as New Zealand’s second largest airport. The Airport occupies a unique position economically, as the South Island’s busiest and most strategic air connection to the world’s trade and tourism markets. In addition, the airport plays an important role as the South Island’s major domestic hub servicing all New Zealanders, enabling passengers to connect to a full spectrum of destinations throughout New Zealand. Christchurch International Airport is a major driver of the regional Canterbury economy, generating airport precinct related jobs for nearly 5000 people.
Christchurch International Airport is owned and operated by Christchurch International Airport Limited (CIAL). CIAL was established as a limited liability company in 1988, and ownership of CIAL is now shared by Christchurch City Holdings Limited with 75% and the New Zealand Government with 25%. The company’s vision is to be recognised as New Zealand’s leading tourist gateway.
Christchurch International Airport is a carbon neutral company and has received carboNZero certification from Landcare Research following a detailed measurement and analysis process. CIAL is the first airport company in the Southern Hemisphere to attain certified carbon neutral status and is the second carbon neutral certified airport company in the world.
Visit christchurchairport.co.nz for more information.

© Scoop Media

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