Work begins to shorten Auckland Airport runway after damage in touchdown area caused flight diversions

Auckland Airport’s runway is tonight being shortened as it prepares to replace the pavement in the touchdown area, which is damaged.

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Pilots are relieved after flights had to be diverted on two separate occasions this year. Source: 1 NEWS

Eighty workers will begin the works at 11pm where nearly a “rugby field of concrete” will be replaced, according to Auckland Airport’s Andre Lovatt.

“Over time this is a piece of concrete that gets hammered everyday as planes land,” Mr Lovatt says.

The $26 million project was brought forward from September after Covid-19 caused a 97 per cent drop in international flights.

The replaced runway comes as a relief to pilots, who have been calling for urgent action at Auckland Airport since the beginning of this year.

It was shut on two separate occasions in January and February, forcing flights to be diverted around the country.

NZ Air Line Pilots Association president Capt. Andrew Ridling said risks included debris and broken concrete slabs.

“It needed to be fixed.. a block of concrete 30 centimetres by 30 centimetres with a wheel landing on it with that weight can be a fairly solid projectile that could do some damage.”

But Auckland Airport tells 1 NEWS it's always stood by the safety and integrity of the runway.

Construction will take between eight and 10 weeks.

In the meantime, planes touching down at Auckland Airport will use what’s called a displaced threshold, meaning planes will use a shorter runway while works continue safely.