DAVID WHITE/STUFF

Queues at the domestic terminal of Auckland Airport

OPINION: It was a farcical sight. A large jet aircraft waiting for a tiny plane from Great Barrier to land. Three hundred people sitting on a plane waiting for just a couple of passengers.

Auckland Airport should have a second runway for domestic planes. It’s been talked about since the 1960s. Earthworks even began on a second runway back in 2007. Now, it’s hoped to be open by 2028.

Auckland’s domestic terminal looks like a zoo on Monday mornings, with lines snaking back towards the food court. I recently apologised to a French traveller behind me, explaining it’s only like this on weekday mornings.

Yes, big upgrades are on the way. But let’s be frank, there’s no real rush for the airport. It’s hardly like the airlines have an alternative.

Passengers wait to go through the security gates at Auckland Airport.

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Passengers wait to go through the security gates at Auckland Airport.

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Auckland Airport continues to pat itself on the back for winning top airport awards in Australia and the Pacific. Meanwhile, in the real world of first-class airports, Singapore’s Changi Airport is opening a five-storey indoor rainforest with the largest indoor waterfall in the world and a canopy park.

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A first look at the game-changing new development at Singapore’s Changi Airport Jewel.

Japan’s Haneda Airport has a floor dedicated to pop culture, complete with flight simulators for kids. Meanwhile, back at Auckland Airport, we have a “car park safari” on offer for those heading between the international and domestic terminals.

Airports aren’t just a place to catch a plane, they can also be a destination. It surprises me how many people love travelling, but hate airports. That’s a massive failure on the part of airport companies.

A look at the game-changing new development at Changi Airport in Singapore.

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A look at the game-changing new development at Changi Airport in Singapore.

Air New Zealand is a world leader in innovation. Why should the journey stop when you get off the plane? Because Auckland Airport is distracted, instead focused on playing catch-up after years of lining the pockets of shareholders.

What’s made Air New Zealand world leading? Competition. Auckland Airport has none. I recently wrote about how New Zealand has one of the lowest penetration rates of low-cost carriers anywhere in Asia. I guarantee a second airport would attract them.

Auckland Airport has completed its international terminal's Pier B extension.

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Auckland Airport has completed its international terminal’s Pier B extension.

Imagine for a moment if the RNZAF Base Auckland at Whenuapai was a dual commercial airport, primarily designed for low-cost carriers. Air Asia, TigerAir, and Singapore’s Scoot could all fly there, offering cheap flights to Asia and Australia. Jetstar may even offer connecting flights around the country. 

To make this work, there would need to be an efficient rail link to Auckland Airport – so passengers could easily connect to Air New Zealand services because the national carrier wouldn’t be interested in splitting its operations. Auckland Airport would pretty quickly come up to speed, or they’d risk losing customers to the new airport.

Air New Zealand aircraft at Auckland Airport.

CHRIS SKELTON/STUFF

Air New Zealand aircraft at Auckland Airport.

I know this will never happen. But the underlying point remains, Auckland Airport needs competition. Our national psyche has been built on punching above our weight. Sadly, the gateway to our country doesn’t come close to reflecting that.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.



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