Wellington Scoop

Airport master plan includes bigger terminal for twice as many passengers


News from Wellington Airport
Wellington Airport has released a new master plan showing how it will accommodate future growth for the region over the next 20 years.

The proposed masterplan includes a terminal expansion, runway and taxiway system improvements, new freight facilities, additional aircraft parking stands, and a modern fire station. The plans also accommodate rapid transport from Wellington’s city centre.

Under the plans, a new multi-purpose domestic and international jet terminal would be constructed. The development will extend to the south of the existing terminal, with the surrounding apron and at-grade carparking areas repurposed for jet aircraft. Meanwhile, the northern parts of the terminal will be converted for regional traffic – essentially ‘flipping’ the terminals around.

By 2040 the airport is expected to double its economic contribution to the region from $2.3 to $4.3 billion per year and facilitating more than 22,000 jobs.

Steve Sanderson, Chief Executive of Wellington Airport, says the master plan shows how the airport will cater for a doubling in travellers from 6.4 million today to the 12 million that are expected to pass through every year by 2040.

Wellington Airport is seeking feedback on the proposed master plan between Tuesday 22 October and Sunday 17 November.

“The recent terminal expansion has done well to keep pace with domestic growth but the international facilities are already facing congestion at peak times. The availability of gates is constrained during busy periods and busing of regional passengers is often required.

“The forecast growth will mean demand will exceed existing capacity and we need additional land to accommodate the airport’s operations and the new generation of aircraft that are carrying increasing numbers of passengers more efficiently.”

As an international airport, Wellington has an extremely small 110 hectare footprint compared to Auckland Airport’s 1500 hectares and Christchurch’s 750 hectares, says Mr Sanderson.

“This has made us one of the most efficient and innovative airports in the world – but it limits our options. Growth to the south and east is the most feasible option given the airport’s geographical constraints.

“This master plan sets out our vision to meet the needs of travellers and airlines, but also provide new possibilities and opportunities for the city, the region and New Zealand.

“Our growth will play a pivotal role in shaping Wellington’s future. Wellington is now a destination in its own right with the city consistently rating as one of the most liveable in the world.

“Now more than ever, growing Wellington’s global connectivity is critical to the city and the country. That’s why we’re setting our sights on creating the airport of the future to support business and freight connectivity, increase employment opportunities, support sustainable tourism for New Zealand, improve personal travel options and ultimately enhance Wellington’s links to the world.”

“This project also represents one of the largest investments in infrastructure in the region and will generate additional construction jobs and other opportunities for Wellingtonians.”

The airport is seeking to acquire the former Miramar South School site land and the southern portion of Miramar Golf Course to provide space for additional aircraft stands, taxiways and aprons.

Wellington Airport is working with Miramar Golf Club to purchase half its land. Following consultation with residents and its members Mr Sanderson says the airport will submit an application to Wellington City Council for a Notice of Requirement for a Designation for that land.

“Few airports serve their city as well in terms of proximity to the CBD. As a truly city airport, we acknowledge our responsibility to our neighbouring community and will work closely with them to ensure they are fully engaged.”

Aircraft emissions are currently 2% of all global carbon emissions and domestic aviation contributes to about 1% of New Zealand’s total carbon emissions. While Wellington’s passenger numbers are forecast to double in 20 years, likely commercial aircraft movements are forecast to increase by 25%. At the same time the next generation aircraft are 20% to 30% more efficient and the International Air Transport Association has committed to reduce airline emissions by 50% by 2050. Wellington Airport is targeting a 30% reduction in its operational emissions by 2030.

“We will also be watching with interest the progress of the Let’s Get Wellington Moving programme,” says Mr Sanderson.

“While the number of travellers are growing, there is a significant number of people moving between the eastern suburbs to the city centre and beyond.

“We need a world-class 21st Century multi-modal transport solution which meets the needs of motorists and those choosing public transport. Wellington Airport will be ready to enable any public transport solution, but ideally it links directly to the city centre in order to provide the maximum benefit for current and future travellers.”


  1. Brendan, 22. October 2019, 9:19

    I guess a bigger terminal is needed as part of WCC’s declared ‘climate change emergency’.

  2. Ian Apperley, 22. October 2019, 9:47

    It’s alright Brendan, Fleur will fix it, said no one, ever.

  3. John, 22. October 2019, 9:54

    Wellington Airport is blind and ignorant to the realities of the climate crisis. Despite their attempt at greenwashing the proposal with their noble goals to reduce emissions and “next generation” aircraft, they are actually only interested in increasing profits, at the expense of a livable planet. Not to mention the local impacts to communities of the additional noise, air pollution and loss of green space.

  4. Andrew, 22. October 2019, 10:11

    They had no issue finding $800+ million for this development. Why then have the hat out for the runway extension?

  5. Ben, 22. October 2019, 10:20

    So we let the airport grow? No check from the community? To be clear, IMHO, this is in the complete opposite direction from climate emergency. Air travel must become clean BEFORE we let the airport (and emissions) grow like that. Public intervention to oppose is absolutely necessary. [via twitter]

  6. Thomas Nash, 22. October 2019, 10:23

    Well we definitely need a well-functioning airport, but in terms of where we prioritise money and plan for the future I would recommend a focus on lower emissions transport infrastructure ahead of expanding air travel. [via twitter]

  7. James Renwick, 22. October 2019, 10:25

    A billion dollars to double passenger numbers at WLG? Pave over the Miramar Golf Course? This is so inconsistent with the city’s and the country’s zero-carbon goals! A really poor idea, and the opposite of climate action. [via twitter]

  8. Curtis Nixon, 22. October 2019, 10:47

    This is why I support Andy F’s policy for WCC to sell its shares in the airport company. At present WCC is hopelessly compromised by dint of being responsible for creating and building climate change policy for Wellington, as well as being an investor in one of the main greenhouse gas emitting businesses here.

    Plus we need the money to fix the library and Town Hall, as well as building light rail and a second Mt Vic tunnel.

  9. glenn, 22. October 2019, 10:48

    A bloody good idea I think. So we will bury our heads in the sand, send the economy backwards at a great rate of knots, just so we can thump our chests and tell the world we are doing our bit for a supposed climate emergency, while everyone else thumbs their nose at it… way to go, sending Wellington into third world poverty. Build the airport, and while you’re at it, extend the runway.

  10. Ruth, 22. October 2019, 11:40

    And the through road? I hope it’s still there.

  11. Benny, 22. October 2019, 11:41

    @glenn: “(..) supposed climate emergency (…)”. A true climate change denier you are. I hope your ideas disappear quickly enough to prevent us from facing even worse consequences. Consequences we’ll have to face collectively because of ideas like yours, a narrow, short sighted vision that has been going on for three, four decades too long. It’s time to put the environment first, which, as you don’t know, means putting people first. If the business is not clean, then there shouldn’t be a business. The airport is a vehicle for a huge amount of emissions (25-30% of total Wellington emissions) in our city: inviting more of these by concreting up the land is the worst idea.

  12. Dave B, 22. October 2019, 12:21

    Glenn, are you a climate-change denier? Or do you just believe that our contribution to it is too small to bother taking action over?
    Trouble is, every man and his dog seems to have an excuse for individually doing nothing about it. So the whole globe bumbles on, burning ever-more fossil-fuel. To me, this is “burying our heads in the sand”.

  13. Michael Gibson, 22. October 2019, 13:19

    Thomas Nash is spot-on.
    How can we be against man-made climate change and ignore our city’s much-vaunted policy when it comes to the airport?

  14. GotB, 22. October 2019, 13:45

    Terrible planning by a bunch of reality and climate deniers: ruining one of the big green spaces in Miramar, access to Moa Point & spending $1b on a folly based on highly unrealistic BAU forecasts for passenger numbers completely ignoring Climate Emergency. [via twitter]

  15. glenn, 22. October 2019, 14:29

    @ benny, did you type your comments on your laptop, powered by your lithium battery? So according to your theory, we should just shut down the airport?
    @ Dave B – I don’t deny the climate may be changing, I do subscribe to the thought that it’s not all man made. I do deny that we will all be under water in a few years, that is scare mongering. And yes you’re correct, our contribution is infinitesimal.

  16. Curtis Nixon, 22. October 2019, 14:41

    Ruth – it seems pretty clear from the image above that the through road is gone. Shame.

  17. Ruth, 22. October 2019, 17:23

    That’s what I thought too Curtis. Unbelievable. Especially as since the buses have changed, the traffic has increased so much around the airport. Sometimes through the airport is the quickest way off the Peninsula.

  18. Dave B, 22. October 2019, 22:52

    @ Glenn. Everybody’s contribution is “infinitesimal”. So what then? Nobody do anything?
    Just bear in mind that although NZ produces only 0.2% of the world’s carbon emissions, it does this with only 0.06% of the world’s population. Per-head, we are among the world’s worst.

  19. Ross Clark, 23. October 2019, 1:06

    There’s a lot that the airport could be doing, now, to increase the use of the airport bus. A ten-minute or better all-day frequency between the city and the Railway station would be a good place to start!

  20. D.W., 23. October 2019, 9:00

    The Airport ‘flyer’ is commercial Ross (apart from Gold Card reimbursement) and I’m thinking that the operator would not want interference from the GWRC. A quicker route would help but the operator does get a few warehouse workers to use it.

  21. GrahamCA, 23. October 2019, 9:44

    D.W. The Airport Flyer hasn’t run past the warehouse for some years and of course no longer accepts Snapper.
    I suspect the combination of the Airport Company wanting an improved service and the new owners of NZ Bus reviewing their operations (and the past relationships with both Airport and GWRC) could lead to some major changes.

  22. greenwelly, 23. October 2019, 9:58

    @D.W. ~700K a year is a big pile of public money for one service…. I would think it’s not viable without it…

  23. glenn, 23. October 2019, 10:01

    @Dave B—the actual figure is 0.17%, but hey let’s say 2. Of that amount, New Zealand’s aviation directly contributes approx 3%. That then equates to approx 0.0005%. Based on that, condemning Wgtn to a substandard third world airport in my opinion is still scare mongering. I take it your per head figure includes methane etc, hardly comparing apples to apples.

  24. BrooklynBrooklyn, 23. October 2019, 10:04

    What. Thee. Eff.
    If our planet had vocal chords it would be screaming in pain.

  25. Ruz, 23. October 2019, 11:28

    The impact of sea level rises will see part of the airport and virtually all of Kilbirnie flat under water by next century. It seems that for some planners and corporates, climate change is still considered something that happens to others. Given all of the other constraints around traffic congestion at the Basin Reserve and extending the runway, perhaps there is a case for looking at an alternative airport site. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  26. Aidy, 23. October 2019, 11:31

    IF the airport has a billion dollars to spend, maybe they could consider some of that as their contribution to LGWM, seeing as they are a large part of the accumulated traffic problems out east, and would stand to gain from any solutions paid for by ratepayers and the taxpayer.
    Maybe it’s time the airport started paying for the external costs of its operations and expansion plans rather than just “taking an interest”.
    It still makes no sense to have such a large airplane park for white Elephant International flights that won’t ever be economical, and would undoubtedly blow our available carbon budget. Will investors really want money locked up in last century’s stranded infrastucture?
    I have little faith that their promises that ” Wellington Airport is targeting a 30% reduction in its operational emissions by 2030″ will be anything but greenwashing. As if we don’t know that it’s the aeroplanes that produce a ridiculous amount of carbon dioxide. But why listen to scientists, when we could increase shareholder value?

  27. Pseudopanax, 23. October 2019, 17:50

    How can this be? Greedy Corp is able to lay asphalt for profit by compulsory purchase of public land set aside for recreation? Plans also include lengthening the runway – inflicting years of environmental trauma on residents and wildlife during and after its construction. Attempts to buy support by promising thousands of jobs and billions of dollars. Corporate forecasts can say what they like. Does doubling passengers mean double traffic on our roads? More misery for Wellingtonians. Meanwhile Wellington Airport encourages customers by car to maximise income from parking. Their desire for profit will cook our Golden Goose! This ‘Master Plan’ belongs in a Marvel comic, surely.

  28. Henry Filth, 24. October 2019, 5:46

    “. . . double its economic contribution to the region from $2.3 to $4.3 billion per year.”
    That makes me wonder where the figures come from.

  29. Elaine Hampton, 24. October 2019, 14:01

    So we have a World First agreement with farmers to tackle runaway climate change and behold the left hand is tied behind our back insisting on racking up emissions in the capital. By the time is is finished it may not be underwater but the world is changing and the business probably won’t be there – remember the overseas terminal. I like our little airport, leave it be. We need to be Wellington, not New York or heaven forbid Auckland

  30. Benny, 24. October 2019, 19:58

    @glenn: no, I am not suggesting to shut down the airport, but a lid on its emissions should be instigated today. Not doing anything now, which has been the strategy for the past 3 or 4 decades, is not an option anymore. You are happy to pursue the status quo, ignoring the evidence provided by science. Good on you: ignorance is bliss. Now, for those who believe in science and see already the severe changes happening (and it’s only the starter), let us push for a change in the ways we do business and organise our societies. The airport is putting budget lines in its plan to deal with the effects of climate change! A problem it has contributed to in a first place!!! No one is talking about going back to horses and carts, but if we want to keep flying, we have to do it sustainably.

    Still can’t believe the horror the airport is proposing.

  31. Gunta Stem, 25. October 2019, 6:31

    What severe changes Benny? I haven’t noticed any change in sea level rise around the Band Rotunda. The sea level looks unchanged since 1990 to me. Our climate is perhaps a little less windy than in the 1990s but that’s my perception.

  32. CC, 25. October 2019, 8:56

    Gunta – have you not noticed that the beach and its environs at Oriental Bay are constantly being changed with sand dumps, use of heavy machinery for periodic reconstruction and the use of artificial reefing. Even historically, the beach was sustained with imported sand – ballast from shipping. The Band Rotunda is not a very good benchmark.

  33. Gunta Stem, 25. October 2019, 9:34

    CC – yes it is as the sea level has not submerged it or got anywhere higher up since 1990.

  34. Groggy, 25. October 2019, 13:57

    @ Gunta, have you not noticed all the flowers blooming out of season, cabbage tree masting every year, increased average temperatures, far less wind. Even to the casual observer, Wellington’s climate is significantly different than it was in the 80’s and 90’s. But hey lets just keep on polluting because it’s always someone else’s problem.

  35. Gunta Stem, 25. October 2019, 16:57

    Groggy – and what is wrong with Cabbage trees having a ‘mast year every year’ (if such thing is possible)? I am quite happy with the climate these days. As I said, Wellington is less windy than it was in the 1990s and we seem to be getting more sunshine. From where I am, any change in climate (if there has been any) has been good for me and my neigbours.

  36. Geoff, 27. October 2019, 16:32

    Interesting to see so many comments on this, as always. Aviation actually produces about 2% of emissions not 3%. Emissions are over 30% less than the 1960s. Industry produces the most, along with private cars. With regard to the runway extension, too many people have had too much say over the years without knowing facts about aviation. Hence 3 to 4 decades of inaction.

    A longer runway equals increased safety margins! Do most of you fly safely? Bigger aircraft are quieter, cleaner and produce so little Co2. There are less aircraft movements at WLG in recent years due to the increased use of bigger, cleaner and quieter aircraft. A longer safer runway will mean LESS take-off thrust required and therefore even LESS emissions. Most emissions in the country are from that northern town called auckland as the aviation centre for little NZ.

    So Wellington is actually better off environmentally. There are so many arguments but beyond the scope of this Scoop! Happy safe flying and do enjoy the less windy and more sunny days ahead.

  37. Geoff, 17. November 2019, 16:20

    Heads in the sand by many.

    QF 171 from Melbourne had to divert to Ohakea on Sat 16 Nov as flap issue dictated. Hours of delay as the alternate was not prepared, customs transport back to WLG etc.

    This is a clear case of runway extension necessity due to safety. Anyone who does not agree that safety is a top priority is a shellfish!

    Get on with it before an overrun really will ruin a happy day for a lot of people. The tourism potential for NZ (major earner) will be badly dented and so will the country’s reputation in more ways than one.

    The runway should be 2500 metres minimum TORA. RESA’s could then be 150 metres.