The Airport over the last two months have made their plans for what they call Auckland’s Airport of the Future more concrete.

The AIAL Masterplan is a few years old so let’s first start with a refresh/recap as it is quite interesting.

In 2014 AIAL released their master plan for the next 30 years, in it included:

  1. A combined International/Domestic Terminal, increasing Aircraft Parking from 56 to 94 spaces, a new Air Traffic Control Tower as well as a new terminal plaza with shops & hotels by 2022. Auckland Airport believes they can delay the need for a second runway until the late 2020s-2030 with these upgrades.
  2. A new 2150m long Northern Runway by 2030.
  3. Northern Runway extension of 890m which will require tunnelling SH20A as well as the future RTN, as well as more Aircraft Parking potentially by 2044.
Phase 1 & 2
Phase 3 & 4

The new plan also included plans for the Airport to be integrated with an RTN, and the development of over 308 hectares in the land around the Airport known as the District which along with the Airport will result in approx 27000 more jobs on top of the current 20000 jobs around the Airport.

Auckland Airport is predicting that

  1. By 2030 carry 10000 long haul passengers per day.
  2. That daily trips will increase from 63000 to 140,000 by 2044.
  3. Move from 14 million passengers a year & 420+ flight movements per day to 40 million passengers a year & 775+ flight movements per day.

Transport will be improved by:

  1. A new road network that will separate visitor, commercial & staff traffic.
  2. Provision for a future RTN Station.
  3. 20000 Parking Spaces.
  4. A boulevard for pedestrians/cyclists connecting the Airport & the District.

In June this year, the Airport renewed their commitment to the Airport of the Future Plan. Noting since 2014 passengers have grown 26% while at the same time the number of international airlines has grown significantly, with a 61% increase in just 22 months. In response, Auckland Airport has announced they will invest $1.8b in CAPEX by 2022 with key projects being

  • Upgrading the international departure area;
  • 3 new gates for international aircraft increasing capacity;
  • New domestic jet terminal joined onto the existing international terminal meaning Auckland finally will have a combined terminal;
  • Improving border processing area and public arrivals space;
  • Upgrading the check-in area; and
  • Investments in public transport, roading and walking projects.

The Airport has also reconfirmed its intention of building the second runway by 2028 with works potentially starting in 2020-2021 introducing a runway land charge of $1.19 per passenger when the actual build is confirmed. $202m has been committed for the preliminary works & planning over the next few years.

The Airport also now wishes the second runway to be built 72m north & to the full length about 890m longer from the beginning allowing it to be used for all international aircraft except the A380 Superjumbos, rather than just domestic flights as first intended, however, the new northern runway still intends to have an overnight curfew. The extended runway will mean that George Bolt Memorial & the future Mass Transit will need to be put into a cut & cover tunnel under the new runway. However, the latter was already planned to be built so ready and thus already future proofed for any runway extension.

So what do you think of the Airport of the Future?

Please, no LRT vs HR vs Bus on this one plenty other posts you can make those arguments on.

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79 comments

  1. It looks like they’re not really committing to anything on the PT front at all. I guess they just expect that more passengers (and workers) will simply materialise out of thin air on their doorstep (and dematerialise once not required any more). Sad.

    1. I agree. If the airport expansion travel demand growth necessitates a rail connection (heavy or light) then they should be required to display how they propose to accommodate the that link. I would expect that the need for any LRT south of say, Mangere Town Centre, would be driven entirely by the need to ameliorate the transport impact of the airport.

    2. Last I knew (prior to the LRT announcement), the Airport were trying to get some solid direction out of AT about it. Obviously the decision lies with AT/NZTA, but it was messing with the Airports long term planning about which way AT/NZTA were going to go.

      I got a little bit of a feel that one of the reasons NZTA said they would commit to LRT was so that the Airport had something to work with.

    3. In fairness At don’t have plans for airport rail until the third decade (2038 – 48) so there is no point the airport building anything in the near future as long as they plan for it.

        1. perfect, AIAL are planning to finish the runway in 2028, so they can build the trench for the PT route which AT can then immediately start connecting up to the rest of the route.

  2. Honest question:

    Is there any particular reason the airport has ruled out above ground rail? It adds a lot of cost to the project.

    Can’t rail be built on SH20A and then tunneled when the airport actually builds this new runway?

    I’ve always got the impression they have a strong tunnel bias for no particular reason.

    1. Since the Airport intends to build the runway full length from the start makes sense to build it under future proofed ready so no future disruption to services.

  3. So where does the regional aircraft fit in (ie ATR and Dash 8). Guess they will use up the rest of the current domestic terminal once the Domestic Jets go to their new one.

    1. The issue is the different tiers of security and the ability to use swing gates…….which means that domestic jets can park and be used next to international (eventually)…..the current domestic process is extremely efficient (one of the fastest in the world) and putting regionals into the main terminal will mean have to bring these regionals up to a higher security level……..increased costs and time for passengers meaning they routes are less viable. …….expect to see a significant separation of regionals (which will annoy some but be better for most)………ardmore was probably even considered.

      1. Why would putting them in the same terminal mean they have to be brought up to higher security level? They currently share a terminal with domestic jets that require security.

          1. So that will apply to Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin as well? Christchurch has only just rebuilt it’s terminal so I can’t imagine they will be happy.

  4. Best practice is for the Rapid Transit station to be integrated into the Terminal building, not stopping across the road from it. This plan, if still current, forces unnecessary numbers of people crossing roads to access the station. Surely this will change.

    1. 2014 Plans were based on an underground HR station I believe LRT is in the North facing end of the terminal.

      1. Either way the mixing of pedestrian pathways and other ground transport (buses, taxis, cars etc) is the key issue. Another overlay is the point at which bags are dropped and how you prioritise customers. It is also worth noting that that public transport connections are justified by staff transport needs not passenger needs and development of a connection that also serves hotels, offices and other landslide destinations is important. The aerotropolis model is the trend and this definitely doesn’t mandate pt to the terminal…….especially for trains you would do bag drop at Britomart.

        1. Non-terminal could work really well with a level airbridge from the platforms to the check in desks over the roads.

        2. RE: Bag drop – Do we have a system for this already? If not, I’d love for our major hotels and airlines to organise this. In Hong Kong for example, you can check in at either Hong Kong (Central) or Kowloon (Jordan) stations of the MTR. You can also collect your boarding pass there, up to a day in advance (or 90 mins in advance if you like to cut it fine).

          All we’d need in Auckland is just the one depot and, as you say, Britomart is the obvious choice.

      1. I haven’t been there – what’s the cock-up? Does it not work well as a station, or is it that it does not connect to the airport? Or something else?

        1. Instead of bringing the station close to the shopping centre and rainbows end they put it right on the fringe. It’s a very long walk in the rain, thanks AT

          1. I think the position of the Manukau station was the decision of the legacy Manukau City Council and was a compromise based on that council saving money.

    1. I think they are more aware now that they are not sustainable without an RTN connection. The airport will eventually collapse under its own weight of vehicle traffic, which will only boost the case for a second airport at Whenuapai.

  5. Should they make provision for an intercity rail terminal at the airport. Who would be the bigger users of an intercity link commuters or air travellers?

    1. I’d imagine it would be commuters. I doubt there would ever be enough people travelling from Hamilton to Auckland Airport to justify a specific train service, better to have a quality RTN connection at Puhinui.

          1. The maps indicate a through route, but of course the idiots (“experts”) want to spend $billions to recreate another Britomart terminal bottleneck, and then spend another few $billions to fix it later: jobs for the boys … now that’s planning.

            I don’t care what the self-professed experts say, if you’re building infrastructure that’s going the last 100+ years, you have to think 100+ years ahead: what will the demand be in c2130? (Answer: most likely more than in c2030.)

      1. Yes I think this makes the most sense. What I think is missing though is space for regional/intercity busses, If the airport is connected to the RTN network, it would be a good location for a large regional/intercity bus terminal-perhaps with a smaller station in the city itself.

        1. It’s really just people from Hamilton that would travel by land to get to Auckland airport, anyone else would likely be catching a connecting flight.

          1. I think the basic HAM-Auck train would just go through the airport.
            Not HAM -Airport. but HAM – Airport- AUCK.
            Regular commuters + intercity commuters + airport users and tourists.

          2. MRB, that would make it slower and less direct for the majority of users, whereas with a high quality high frequency shuttle from Puhinui, both the main can remain optimised and the Airport market served well… it’s very close.

            And this system would make even train through Puhinui a ‘train to the planes’ i.e. every Southern and Eastern line train, every express, every intercity. More track, platforms, and other amenity would be needed, but also justified by this approach, much more cost effective and much more able to be delivered in the near term. In fact Puhinui would become a major interchange Station like Onehunga, which would also transform form the local area’s connectivity and appeal too. Access for locals to employment and education would elevate profoundly.

          3. I cant seem to reply to Patricks post so Ill try here.

            I agree. Its very close to puhunui . That’s why I don’t think its that much of a detour.

            Every train there would also be a train to the planes. You just transfer to a train instead of a shuttle. or some trains would be real trains to the planes by actually going there without transferring

            Just to be clear I am talking about the full heavy rail loop through to onehunga and then on to the city.

            Not really a fan of this light rail plan. Seems very much like a classic Auckland decision. “lets build something with less capacity and less speed because its cheaper!!”

            I seem to remember a report a few years ago about access to the airport and light rail came out as the worst option of all the options. Now the frontrunner.

            ;’Access for locals to employment and education would elevate profoundly.”

            Eh? because of a transfer station to a shuttle out to the airport ?. They live 5 min drive from that airport area and also live near manukau tech. Puhunui’s appeal will always be limited though by the factories around, no beaches nearby and the planes flying low overhead.

  6. “Provision for a future RTN”

    Provision only. Not building it. If their growth numbers are to be believed and they are seeking approval for this development, it should not be rubber stamped until they say how they are going to get people in and out appropriately.

    After how to accommodate extra flights, managing the movement of people in and out should be the next most important things in this plan. And given recent issues, 20,000 carparks and only a *provision* for RTN (bus/LR/HR) means this should fall over on inadequate traffic management, alone

    Laughable. Honestly, what is in the Kiwi planners DNA that is so violently opposed to using RTN to manage large movements of people where spatially-challenged?

    1. I’d say it’s a general unfamiliarity with PT as a concept as such. Most people in NZ only uses PT sporadically at best. It makes it difficult to relate to it or see it as a viable option. I know that’s changing but there is a lot of institutional resistance as well.

      1. Planners based out of NYC and Amsterdam for a lot of this. Pretty sure they understand PT and it’s role………trick is AT actually deciding on route ……..has to be provisional until light rail vs heavy is agreed………..not defending aial but it isn’t like they are maniacally twisting their moustaches and not thinking about these things.

    2. I wouldn’t say it’s kiwi planners, most seem quite well versed in international trends and outcomes and actually have a good idea of what to do. You can go back to the regional transport plans of th 90s to see a consistent plan for rapid transit to the airport and all over the region. It’s the politicians and public, they stick to status quo, both, because people don’t know any better. The fact we are thirty years in without anything different isn’t because the planners don’t want it different.

      1. (I think) I’ve got plans from 30 years before the 90s for rail to Auckland airport (not unpacking now to check dates).

        Do politicians actually alter the plans?

        Or is it perceived funding constraints?

        It would have cost next to nothing to protect a route for rail through the farmland in the 1960s (and it wouldn’t have cost much more to just build it – compared to today), so maybe it’s not funding.

        So … What is it? – What’s the problem with NZ? Is it some problem with land titles or something like that?

        Why can’t we designate rights of way when there’s only grass in the way?

        What’s the hurdle that seems to be so unscalable?

  7. Auckland Airport needs to set itself some bold goals if we’re to assume it’s a true “airport of the future”

    I would set the following:
    99% of NZ passport holders arriving internationally exiting within 30 minutes

    As my primary goal.

    1. Good post and perfectly aligned with the idea of customer journey being prioritised. I think you will find in the future that it won’t be limited to be passport holders. Mpi will always be the biggest hurdle as passenger identification, visa processing and triage is set to become almost automatic soon.

  8. Thanks for the post Harriet and really great to see a post about other types of infrastructure. The airport is an interesting microcity that is a fractal of Auckland as a whole. It is stymied by a significant variety of clients and decision makers and has significantly underinvested in growth to such an extent that there are now huge growing pains. I think the parallels with Auckland council would be good to highlight on this site.

  9. Almost in August and still no bus lane along Puhinui Road to the airport.
    Looks like we’re going to have a repeat of the gridlock that we had last year.

  10. Currently, what I would call the best integrated Airport in the world, is Schiphol Airport in Holland – one airport serves the entire country, just about everybody catches a train from the terminal direct to their home city, and the platforms at the trains connect by gently sloping travelator direct to the check-in counters for the airport. It is an absolute dream to travel through. Being Holland, you leave your bike locked up in the station at your home town, not at the airport. As far as I know, about 5000 parking spaces provided for cars. But there is really only one option they are pushing: take the train to the plane. Trains run about 8 times an hour to Amsterdam, and costs about 4 euros a trip, takes 15 minutes. Or go by bus, 5 euros.

    We’re so far away from that ideal, it is staggering, but then again, many other airports in the world also plan for people to come only by car (not the clever ones though). Public Transport, to the door, at the very least, should be high in the minds of any airport planner in Auckland. Plan it in there now guys, you know you want to!

    But interestingly, I just received a note that Schiphol is planning a new terminal – so many people are flying there that their present 1960s plan is groaning at the seams. Fingers crossed that they keep the same simple design principle. If only Auckland would plan to follow that plan too….

    PS: the Schiphol website notes that Taxis in Amsterdam are some of the most expensive in Europe, and a 30 minute trip to the airport from the centre of A’dam will cost you about 52 euros. So – still cheaper than Auckland taxis then!

    1. You are making me regret flying into Eindhoven! but even for a regional airport the connection looks like it will be really easy.

        1. Not quite as good, but still well connected. I have to take an express bus to the train station and then take a couple of trains to get to Nijmegen; but I am a penny-wise student so I have time for the more leisurely option!!

    2. ” the platforms at the trains connect by gently sloping travelator direct to the check-in counters for the airport.”

      This should also be a compulsory part of any consent at Ak airport. None of this taking the piss by expecting passengers to walk across connecting roadways in the rain.

  11. It all seems very expensive and problematic about delivering passengers to where ever they intend going.

    If it is going to be an expensive semi-failure taking decades to complete is there any opportunity for a rival airport? Or rival airport for NZ internal flights?

    What fraction of these future passengers will have Auckland as their main place to visit? Assuming more VR for business conferencing the passengers will mainly be tourists. Tourists do not come to NZ merely to visit Auckland. Would NZ be better investing elsewhere?

    1. Half of arrivals are New Zealanders, of which the largest proportion will live in and around Auckland. It is pretty standard to have the biggest airport in the biggest city.

      Not sure what another airport will achieve, it would just split the resources for future transport solutions meaning neither may well end up with rail.

      1. Thanks for the info. Any idea what fraction are internal flights – they must be 99% aiming for Auckland. It was the mention of Schiphol that reminded me that it is the only airport built on the site of a naval battle. I was vaguely dreaming of a modern built for purpose airport built in one of our 3 harbours. However any such idea would still flounder on the problem of transporting people the last few kilometres into the CBD. It might be cheaper to move the CBD to the airport.

        1. Auckland airport is built in the hsrbour, practically. It had water in three sides.

          It would absolutely not be cheaper to move the city centre, and why would you want to move it away from the cente?

          1. It is imagining what the first Maori’s arriving in the harbour must have seen. I dream of the trees, bushes, birds and lizards and the fragrant vegetation but then reality hits: vertical glass and concrete and diesel fumes. It always makes me wish the CBD to disappear; there are only a handful of places I will miss (the stairs in Myers park are one).

        2. I think Auckland airport is in a relatively sensible location as far as airports go, it has plenty of scope to grow, was developed sufficiently far ahead of urban sprawl that it doesn’t run into curfew issues.

          The problems seem to be more around lack of planning for growth and PT provision, these are all solvable problems in the current location.

          Transporting people from the airport to the CBD is overrated, mostly because it is how we experience other cities as tourists. The majority of people leaving an airport precinct (once you include workers) are heading elsewhere in the city, which is why good PT connections are important.

          1. Jezza: of course you are right. Does anyone ever tot up the cost of putting right failures of planning. 70 years ago they could have planned (not necessarily built but reserved the land) rail and roads from the airport south, north and east. Even if for a few decades the reserved land was only used to graze sheep it would have been a better long term economic plan.

        3. Internal vs external – its about 50 / 50 as far as I can tell from their Air Passenger Volume diagram above. Of that 50% domestic, a large proportion must be Wellington and Christchurch, most of the other centres are fed of the 3 main hubs.

  12. Its unlikely the bus lane will ever happen, might be the capex for paint exceeds the BCR.
    Maybe with the new 3rd and 4th mains being completed before the CRL opens there will be a re-evaluation of the proper solution, an express HR link to Britomart from AIA.

      1. If anyone but Nat wins this election then I suspect the bus lanes will be done within a year while 3rd and 4th mains started.

  13. It seems a pity the rapid transit route is designed as a dead-end (albeit with two routes out), rather than coming in on an angle that would future-proof it to allow through-running services. A through-route makes it easier to provide a frequent service if eventually there are other destinations that trains (or LR) going to can pass the airport on the way to, with the future southern terminus of the line being Puhinui or elsewhere further south. I’m thinking like the Amsterdam airport example others have mentioned, or London Gatwick which has heaps of trains passing by vs London Heathrow which is at the end of a line with only specific airport services.

    I can’t help but think the airport is conflicted by it’s parking revenue. Perhaps they have come far enough to acknowledge some kind of rail is better than no rail to boost capacity, but their design of the route and station location slightly away from terminal seems to be intended to make sure the rapid transit always will remain a poor cousin vs the convenience of driving and paying parking. Perhaps there is a role for the council or government to take more initiative in determining the rapid transit alignment and station location and use the threat of consent conditions or Public Works Act compulsory land acquisition to force the airport company’s hand in providing a better outcome for New Zealand and Auckland.

    1. SB – nail hit firmly on head there. Yes, you are absolutely right that a through route would make so much more sense and so much more financial viability. Also absolutely correct that the parking revenue from airports is a big driver. Small lengths of stay charged at exorbitant rates, spread over thousands and thousands of uncomplaining drivers, means that parking revenue often comes second behind retail revenue for some airports. Actually flying planes is just a side show.

      1. Guy the airport is literally a terminus, or rather two termini. One for air travellers and one for surface. There is nothing beyond the airport, unlike Britomart. Two services, one from the north and one from the east, at high frequency terminating at the terminal (boom) is the right pattern I reckon.

        You could through-route the same vehicles if you want, i.e. have Manukau originated vehicles go on to Onehunga, but there would be little difference to those moving through-travellers transferring at the Airport, and operationally a Wynyard-Airport LRT + Howick- Airport LRT are likely to work better separated at that point.

        A four track terminus at the Airport would show real future-proofing. Not AKL’s strong point, however…

    2. Sabotage is a great pity. The history of PT in Auckland is a history of sabotage. An RT route made to be a dead-end is outright sabotage.

      It seems the CRL has been sabotaged by that Meale character (going by Matt’s post a few days ago). And now AIAL (along with MoT/NZTA/AT, from way back) are sabotaging rail to the airport.

      For some unknown reason, it seems they don’t want people to have PT, and even if they build PT, they don’t want it to be as useful as it could easily be (if planned properly from the outset).

  14. (I was going to write: My prediction: it’ll be a cock-up)

    – but I think Lapun put it more eloquently:

    “it is going to be an expensive semi-failure taking decades to complete”

    (Is “semi-failure” a known term? If not, I think Lapun is a genius for coining it.)

  15. Seems last few comments pretty pessimistic. Think we will end up with a rapid transit solution that will be quite good, enough force behind it now. The airport plans themselves seem pretty good from what I understand & where the airport is based it quite good for future expansion.

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