Air New Zealand is considering plans to fly several domestic routes from a second airport in Auckland to address “sub-optimal” transport options to Auckland Airport.
The airline’s outgoing CEO, Christopher Luxton, said in a statement Air NZ was “very interested” in the commercial viability of Whenuapai as a second regional airport hub for Auckland. The airline believes having the second airport could keep costs low for passengers.
Its initial assessment of the northwestern Auckland air base has made it clear multiple services a day to Wellington and Christchurch “could be commercially viable”.
“Our customers are telling us loud and clear that the transport infrastructure to get to and from Auckland Airport is sub-optimal, especially for the large percentage who live north of the Harbour Bridge or in West Auckland,” Mr Luxton said.
“Current estimates show that airport operating costs at Whenuapai would be lower than at Auckland Airport.”
Air NZ is also in the final stages of assessing the commercial viability of flights to Queenstown, Napier, Nelson and Palmerston North.
The airline said once it had the full picture, it wanted to have a conversation with the Government.
“Whenuapai is a key infrastructure asset for New Zealand, yet it could be utilised much more if the Government was up for considering it as a dual-use facility for both military and commercial operations,” said Mr Luxton.
Current domestic flights in the region operate out of the Auckland Airport complex south of Māngere.
Whenuapai is used by the Royal New Zealand Air Force and New Zealand Defence Force military police. It was used post-World War II until the 1960s as a civil international airport.