08 August 2008
Auckland Airport today celebrated the opening of an expanded border agency arrival screening hall, the second stage of a project aimed at improving the arrival experience for international travellers.
The Minister of Customs and Associate Minister of Tourism, Hon. Nanaia Mahuta, officially opened the area at a ceremony this morning where invited guests, staff and tangata whenua were treated to an escorted visit into the restricted access screening area.
The area now provides capacity for faster and more efficient processing for travellers with the ability to process 2,500 travellers per hour in peak time - an increase of twenty five per cent.
The enlarged screening area has increased from 1,910 square metres to 3,050 square metres and features more operational space for border agents MAF Biosecurity New Zealand and the New Zealand Customs Service. MAF now has the space for ten assessor booths, up from six, and an increase in x-ray screening positions from nine to 11. Customs has also gained a larger screening and search area.
Today's opening completes a $90 million investment to improve border processing for arriving travellers at Auckland Airport. Stage one, completed in April 2008, saw the opening of a new arrivals area facility that included an improved Customs and Immigration experience, along with a much enhanced duty-free arrivals retail offering.
Auckland Airport chief executive officer, Don Huse, believes that the change to the border agency screening area is an important part of creating a welcoming first impression.
"Auckland Airport is committed to improving the visitor and traveller experience. Our new arrivals area that opened earlier this year and today's opening of the border agency arrival screening hall all helps improve efficiency for travellers while also providing an attractive modern environment. It's all part of welcoming travellers to New Zealand and protecting our borders with quick and efficient processing."
In declaring the area open, the Minister of Customs, Hon. Nanaia Mahuta, commended the expansion.
"The expanded secondary screening area is one way that we are facilitating increased passenger volumes. We now have more space to assess and interact with travellers. Finding the balance between facilitation and security at the border is an ongoing challenge and these improved facilities will allow not only Customs, but also our colleagues in MAF and Immigration to provide a better experience for travellers", said Ms Mahuta.
As part of the opening a carving by celebrated Maori artist Blaine Te Rito was blessed and unveiled in the Customs search area. The carving, Te Hokioi (Haast's Eagle), is an artist's image of the ancient eagle that once dominated the skies of Aotearoa. Te Hokioi was designed to represent the role of New Zealand Customs as protectors of New Zealand's shores and borders.
The next stage of development at Auckland Airport sees the opening of stage one of Pier B in October this year. The new pier will initially have two contact gates, each with two air bridges for two-door handling of a single large aircraft, and will accommodate the first commercial Airbus A380 when it arrives in February next year.
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