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School Holiday Sunseekers Jet Out In Record Numbers

Kiwis seeking a sunny escape from the New Zealand winter are behind the biggest traveller numbers seen at Auckland Airport since 2019.

Around 120,000 people are expected to depart on international flights out of Auckland during July school holidays – nearly 50% more than the April school holidays.

Auckland Airport forecasts are showing a strong appetite from New Zealanders to head overseas, with Australia by far the most popular destination for the school holidays with over half the expected international demand heading across the Tasman, followed by Fiji then USA, said Anna Cassels-Brown, General Manager Operations at Auckland Airport.

“This Friday is going to be particularly busy, with the subsequent Fridays rounding out the top three busiest departure days – at both the domestic and international terminals. On the arrivals side it tends to be the weekends that are busiest.”

July sees several route restarts including Air New Zealand’s services to Adelaide, Cairns, Hobart, Sunshine Coast, Papeete, Noumea, Honolulu, and Houston, Hawaiian Airlines connection to Honolulu, and Air Tahiti Nui flying to Los Angeles via Papeete. This boosts the total number of international destinations connected to Auckland to 33 served by 18 airlines.

“Although we’ll still be around 50% of our pre-COVID international travel volumes, there are definitely going to be some particularly busy patches each day. First thing in the morning we’ve got up to six flights heading to Australia within a 15-minute window, so it will certainly be all go in the terminal,” said Ms Cassels-Brown.

“We know this means that queues may form, but we anticipate they’ll be reasonably fast moving so please be patient and do factor in some extra time for your journey.

Car park moves

Auckland Airport has also restarted its infrastructure development programme, which means there are some big changes underway in and around the international terminal, including the closure of the main international terminal car park to make way for the construction of a new Transport Hub.

The closest car parks to the international terminal, Car Parks D and E, are approximately seven- to 10-minutes’ walk from the terminal via a covered pedestrian connection. A high-frequency bus service is also connecting to the international terminal every seven minutes.

“As travel recovers our big infrastructure projects will also kick off in earnest. There’s going to be a lot of change at the airport over the coming couple of years, but we know it will also deliver an awesome travel experience when it’s finished, which we’re really excited about.”

Take off via Family Lane

One of the initiatives Auckland Airport is putting in place specifically for the school holidays is a family lane through the border processing areas to make sure everyone’s arrival and departure is a stress-free as possible.

Developed in collaboration with government border agencies, the Family Lane allows parents to take some time to prepare themselves and their children for border formalities. First introduced for international security screening during the 2019 Christmas peak, this school holidays the Family Lane will operate at Customs and Aviation Security screening for international departures, and MPI biosecurity screening at international arrivals. Dedicated lanes for family or large groups are already in operation at Customs NZ on arrival.

“Anyone who has travelled with young children knows it can be stressful and the last thing you need is to feel like you’re holding up other travellers. By creating a dedicated lane for families travelling with children during the school holidays, we can make the essential border processes go as smoothly as possible for all travellers.”

Retail and food and beverage update

Dining and shopping options are reopening in line with the recovery in passenger numbers, however at certain times of the day, particularly later in the evening, there will be fewer food and beverage outlets open.

“We know how much people enjoy the shopping and dining experience as part of an overseas holiday or work trip, and we are working hard to make it the best experience possible.

“It takes a huge effort to restart these operations after more than two years of closure. To fully reopen our tenants need to staff a 20 hour work day, seven days a week – for some of the bigger outlets that takes 50 or 60 staff, which is a real recruitment challenge in the current environment,” she said.

“If travelling with children especially, please consider bringing snacks or essential supplies with you, especially for any late-night flights. We apologise that the whole airport system is not yet back at full strength, and very much appreciate your understanding.”

Top tips for school holiday travel

  • Give yourself plenty of time in advance of your trip to make sure you have the right documentation for your destination, including health declarations
  • Check what food, drink, and baby formula you can take through Aviation Security screening when you’re travelling with young children
  • If you’re driving to the airport book parking in advance to get the best deal and double-check the journey to the car park – we’ve made a number of changes including closing the main international car park to build a new Transport Hub
  • Mobility card holders have the option of using the mobility valet for the same price as an international car park with the ease of parking right alongside the international terminal
  • The pickup/drop off areas are all running as normal, and meeters and farewellers are welcome into the terminals, but with the closure of the main international car park the closest car park for people meeting or farewelling friends and family at the international terminal is now Car Park D, a five-minute undercover walk from the terminal
  • Leave the car at home and catch a taxi, rideshare, SkyDrive bus or take advantage of half price public transport fares to try the train-bus connection via the AirportLink
  • The Sunflower Hidden Disability lanyard is now recognised at Auckland Airport. Check out the resources and support available to help make travel easier for those with invisible disabilities
  • Pack a smile for the staff on deck at Auckland Airport – we’re all super excited to help you get to your final destination.

July travel in numbers

  • Top international destinations: Australia, Fiji, and USA.
  • Top domestic destinations: Christchurch, Wellington, and Queenstown
  • Three busiest days for international arrivals: Sunday 10 July, Saturday 16 July, Saturday 23 July
  • Three busiest days for international departures: Friday 8 July, Friday 15 July, Friday 22 July
  • Three busiest days for domestic arrivals: Friday 8 July, Sunday 10 July, Friday 22 July,
  • Three busiest days for domestic departures: Friday 8 July, Friday 15 July, Friday 22 July

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