Drivers for change

Emerging economies

The emerging economies of China, South-east Asia, India and South America are changing the dynamics of global air travel. There has been a significant rise in the number of people with disposable income in these economies – and New Zealand is uniquely positioned to take advantage of their desire to travel.

It is estimated that 66% of the populations of China and India will take one international trip each year by 2032, and the annual numbers of Chinese visitors to New Zealand are expected to exceed 600,000 by 2020 (source: MBIE Tourism Forecasts 2017-2023). The nature of the Chinese tourist is also evolving, from group travellers to Free Independent Travellers (FITs). This new generation of tourists typically spend more and visit more of New Zealand while they are here.

Auckland Airport is already experiencing growth in passengers and flights as a result of these changing trends in air travel. We now have seven airlines providing direct connections to seven major Chinese cities as well as daily services to South America.

The growth of these emerging economies has led to a significant increase in aircraft numbers. According to Airbus, emerging economies represent 50% of new aircraft demand for the next 20 years. Boeing expects the number of aircraft in China will triple in the next 20 years and that Chinese airlines will buy more than 5,500 new planes by 2030.

Emerging economies do not tell the full story for us, however. Significant growth has also come from better connectivity and capacity into the United States and single stop travel to/from Europe via the Gulf Airlines.

Changes in aircraft design

Airlines and airports have been able to accommodate the increase in passenger numbers through the introduction of larger planes. Here at Auckland Airport, the number of flights has not increased at the same rate as the number of passengers, as we have adapted our infrastructure to cater for larger modern aircraft.

While our recent development has been influenced by the arrival into the market of the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner, we remain flexible through our 30-year vision to respond to future technological changes within the aviation industry.

Our growth projections

In the three years since we launched our 30-year vision in 2014, our annual passengers numbers have increased by over 4 million from 14.5 million to 18.6 million – putting us well on the way to reaching the 24 million predicted by 2024. By 2044, we expect the number of passengers to have almost tripled over the 30-year period to 40 million annually, across some 260,000 flights.

Airbus predicts that Auckland Airport will become one of the world’s ‘aviation mega cities’ by 2030, welcoming over 10,000 long-haul passengers every day.

The growth in air travel to and from New Zealand will help shape the future development of Auckland, and in particular South Auckland.

A significant proportion of New Zealand’s population growth over the next 25 years is predicted to occur in South Auckland. Auckland Airport is a major centre of employment in the region, and we will continue to play an important social and economic role as the airport precinct grows as a key transport, business and distribution hub.

By 2044 we expect the number of passengers to triple to 40 million

Auckland Airport as a global hub

Auckland Airport is ideally positioned to develop not only as a global hub for air travel in Australasia and the Pacific Rim, but for travel between Asia and South America.

Auckland’s potential as a hub airport is enhanced because:

  • we are uniquely positioned to provide connections between the Asia Pacific, Australia and the Americas;
  • we have established connections into seven major Chinese centres; and
  • we have the ability to expand our infrastructure in a staged and efficient way, and have committed $1.8 billion for this between 2018 and 2022.

As a hub airport in the Pacific Rim, we can provide many benefits to business, trade, tourism and other economic development beyond air travel. The area surrounding Auckland Airport will continue to develop as a destination in its own right for activities complementing air travel. These range from business centres, hotel accommodation and hospitality, to shopping and recreational opportunities.

The benefits of growth will be shared. We believe that over the next three decades, as we build our airport of the future to meet the forecast growth in passengers and flights, over 27,000 more jobs will be created at and around Auckland Airport, improving the incomes of Aucklanders and creating a stronger regional economy.

Building the airport of the future

Building the airport of the future

We are currently investing $1 million every working day in upgrading and expanding the airport.

Find out more