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Christchurch International Airport is the main airport that serves Christchurchmarker, New Zealandmarker. It is located 12 kilometres to the northwest of the city centre, in the suburb of Harewoodmarker, and was opened in 1953.

The primary runway is oriented near perpendicular to Canterbury's Nor'wester foehn wind. For this reason, the secondary runway is a cross-runway (at a right angle to the primary runway), and is used during Nor'westers by all aircraft up to and including Boeing 777s and Airbus A340s (however these large aircraft must be able stop at or prior to the main runway intersection as taxiway Echo off the end of runway 29 is only rated for Boeing 767 size aircraft and there is no turning bay); United States Air Force C-17 Globemaster IIIs also use this runway in extreme conditions.

Due to increasing passenger numbers, the airport has begun construction on a new Domestic terminal upgrade costing over $200 million. The new construction is scheduled for completion in 2011, with some work such as demolition continuing until 2012.

Airport History

Development of the aerodrome at Harewood commenced in 1936. By 1946 the form of the terminal area development was established with hangars, a small terminal building, the water tower and some barracks buildings. The two runways and parallel taxiway concept was established in the early 1950's and in 1960 a new terminal building was in operation. Since that time, additions to the buildings, development of parking and access and extensions to the runway/ taxiway/ apron system have been almost continuous.

  • 1937 A 915 metre runway and a 60 square metre terminal constructed
  • 1962 The main runway was extended to 2,442 metres providing for commercial jet operations.
  • 1966 An international wing was added to the Domestic Terminal.
  • 1975 Extensions to the Domestic Terminal were completed, extending the total floor space to 16,000 square metres
  • 1984 Main runway extended by 845 metres to 3,287 metres.
  • 1987 Terminal extended to accommodate Ansett New Zealand and Air New Zealand lounges and domestic airbridges
  • 1998 New International Terminal Building completed creating an additional 28,000 square metres of new floor space
  • 2004 Expansion of the International Terminal to create five more international stands and four more international airbridges

Facts & Figures

As the gateway for Christchurch and the South Island, Christchurch International Airport Ltd (CIAL) is a major hub and the busiest and most strategic air connection to the world’s trade and tourism markets. The airport occupies a unique position both physically and economically, and is New Zealand’s second largest airport.

Passenger Numbers
  • 5,908,077 passengers travelled in and out of Christchurch International Airport from 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009.
Over the last year CIAL has experienced consistent, record growth in international passenger volumes, at 4.3% over 2007 levels. The combined passenger growth resulted in 7.7% growth over 2007.

The company recorded a net profit after tax of $14.7 million; slightly down from $23.4 million in the previous financial year.

Approx. 5,000 people working on the airport campus.

Military operations

Since the closure of Wigrammarker Air Force Base, the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) always flies to Christchurch International Airport when required to visit the city. There are regular RNZAF flights between the main centres of New Zealand. Prior to the withdrawal of the air combat wing, the RNZAF fighter aircraft were also seen at the airport.

With the development of Antarctic scientific expeditions, since the 1950s Christchurch Airport has been the base for all Antarctic flights operated by the United States Air Force, Air National Guard and Royal New Zealand Air Force as part of Operation Deep Freeze. During the Antarctic flying season (which generally operates from August to February), C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules and LC-130 Hercules aircraft are often seen on the Antarctic Apron north of the main passenger terminals. C-5 Galaxy aircraft also make the occasional appearance.

General aviation operations

There are several general aviation organisations operating from the airport. Garden City Helicopters operates from a base adjacent to the airport. It operates a medivac service using fixed-wing aircraft (NZ Flying Doctor Service) and also operates the rescue helicopter in Canterbury with a secondary helipad in Hagley Park adjacent to Christchurch Hospital (ICAO: NZJC). Christchurch Helicopters also operates from the western side of the airfield, next to Canterbury Aero Club, which maintains a grass runway parallel to the primary runway.

Airport Redevelopment

Christchurch Airport is currently undergoing an extensive expansion project. This began in 2006 when construction commenced on a new multi-storey car park building which opened early 2007. The new building provides 570 new covered car parks. Once it was complete, part of the existing car park area was closed to allow for the extra space required for the expanded footprint of the new terminal building. A new 45m tall control tower, positioned close to the new car park building, opened in September 2009.

In early 2009 work on the new terminal commenced. The new terminal will replace the existing ageing domestic terminal and expand the facilities of the much newer international terminal. The new building will include:

  • a combined check-in area servicing both domestic and international passengers,
  • a large landside retail and food precinct,
  • new domestic departure and arrival lounges with enhanced retail facilities,
  • new domestic and expanded international baggage claim areas,
  • new international customs arrivals area,
  • three swing-style boarding gate accessible from both the domestic and international departure areas so aircraft do not need to change gates,
  • a new taxiing lane incorporated into the domestic aircraft parking apron to allow for more efficient aircraft movements,
  • new coach and drop off facilities that eliminate the terminal frontage road in accordance with new international ICAO guidelines.

The old domestic terminal will be completely demolished to make way for the new terminal. All construction is expected to be completed by mid 2011, with some work such as demolition continuing until 2012.

Parking and Transport

Drop-Off ZoneA drop off and pick up zone is available on the ground floor of the Multi-level Carpark Building (see blue area highlighted below). Parking and waiting is not permitted within this area. Passengers must already be waiting on the kerb if they wish to be picked up.

Passengers can also pick up and drop off in the Short Term Carpark as 30 minutes of free parking is provided. There is a 20 minute parking zone on the ground floor of the Multi-level Carpark Building, 15 minutes free parking is provided hereTaxisVarious taxi companies are available for all flights.

Travel time: 15– 20 minutes to the city centreCost: $30 - $50. Prices may vary by each taxi company.

ShuttlesA door-to-door service is available, from various companies, to all parts within Christchurch.

Travel time: 20– 30 minutes to the city centreCost: $15 - $20 per person. Cost reduces for two or more passengers travelling together.

BusesThere are three Christchurch bus services that run from the airport to the city centre, the number 3 to Sumner via the city, Avonhead and Riccarton, number 10 via Merivale and number 29 via Fendalton. All buses arrive and depart from international coach park, at the end of the International Arrivals Hall.

Airlines and Destinations

Current to August 2009


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