14 December 2021
When Auckland plunged into lockdown 16 weeks ago Auckland Airport time-travelled back to 1966, with fewer passengers through the terminals each day than the year the airport first opened.
Now the airport is preparing for an estimated 4000% increase in domestic traveller numbers, as the country’s largest city looks forward to opening again to the rest of New Zealand for summer.
“After four months of near empty terminals we can’t wait to see the buzz and excitement of domestic travel return, with safety being the number one priority and vaccine passes or a negative COVID test being part of the new summer normal,” said Anna Cassels-Brown, General Manager Operations.
Ms Cassels-Brown said the airport’s operational teams had been working around the clock to ready the domestic terminal for the summer holiday season, with passenger numbers expected to ramp up to just under 27,000 on the busiest days – exceeding the peak day of the July school holidays.
Since Auckland’s lockdown began in August, domestic travel dwindled to around 600 passengers a day from the 23,000 domestic passengers flying in and out of Auckland Airport each day in the weeks just prior to travel restrictions coming into effect.
“Based on our forecasts those days leading up to Christmas from the 22nd onward are when a lot of people will be travelling in and out of Auckland Airport, with first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, and the early evening particularly busy. But even those first days after the Auckland border opens should see a lot of travellers, with close to 30% more travellers than the same time last year. We just need everyone to be prepared for that experience, including allowing more time pre-departure,” said Ms Cassels-Brown.
The end to the Auckland domestic border tomorrow brings extra layers of health protection and procedures to travel, including a requirement to hold evidence of vaccination or recent negative COVID-19 test. These are additional to the need to scan available QR codes, wash hands frequently, and come ready with a mask which must be worn in the airport terminal and on flights. If you’re not feeling well or think you might have COVID-19, you should avoid travelling.
“I know our people are excited to be welcoming more travellers back into the terminal, but we ask that everyone prepares for a slightly different travel experience. Even if you’ve been a frequent flyer in the past, please make sure you get familiar with the new processes before you arrive at the airport,” said Ms Cassels-Brown.
Airlines are asking passengers to check-in online, have their My Vaccine Pass downloaded or proof of a negative COVID-19 test ready, and to be at the airport an hour before departure.
“Everyone at the airport will be making sure you are processed quickly, but it’s possible that during peak times there will be more queuing – please be patient and know that we’re working hard to get you to your destination safely.
“And if you need any assistance, look out for our staff or call in at the helpdesk between the Air NZ check-in area and baggage reclaim.”
The domestic terminal’s food and beverage and retail outlets will reopen, but vaccination passes will be required at some eateries in line with the government COVID-19 protection framework.
“There may have only been a handful of passengers every day over the past four months, but our operational teams have been at the airport every day during lockdown ensuring travellers can reconnect safely – from those undertaking necessary domestic travel and Kiwis arriving or departing internationally, through to maintaining important air cargo connections.
“I really want to acknowledge their outstanding mahi, particularly at a time when the airport has been missing its usual vibrant hustle and bustle, and safety measures have meant teams needing to adhere to strict “work bubbles” to reduce COVID transmission risk among essential workers. Our staff are a resilient bunch, but I want to give a special thanks to these people and their support teams at home.”
Anna’s tips for getting your trip off to a flying start:
- Before you leave home, check-in online and have your My Vaccine Pass downloaded and ready, and a mask to wear in the airport terminal.
- New processes to check vaccination and testing status may mean added wait times at the airline check-in – please make sure you’re at the airport an hour before your flight departure time.
- While we’ll do our best to make sure queuing is kept to a minimum, it’s possible there’ll be some extra time spent standing in line especially first thing in the morning, around lunchtime and in the early evening on our busy days
- While you’re welcome to come into the terminal to help a traveller, it would be great if you could use the pick-up / drop-off area for a “kiss-and-go” farewell or the Wait Zone for pick-up when you’re meeting or farewelling friends and family. It’ll just help keep our terminal clear for people travelling that day
- Our car parks have reopened, including Park & Ride, so try and book your parking ahead – not only do you get the best deal, but you can use contactless payment
- If you need assistance, look out for one of our guest services staff – they’ll be happy to help you get to your destination safely
- Most of all, have a wonderful trip and enjoy reconnecting with friends and family or your favourite New Zealand destination.
Busiest days for domestic travel at Auckland Airport:
- Thursday, 23 December 2021
- Wednesday, 22 December 2021
- Friday, 24 December 2021
- Monday, 27 December 2021
- Tuesday, 28 December 2021
- Friday, 17 December 2021
- Sunday, 2 January 2022
- Thursday, 16 December 2021
- Sunday, 26 December 2021
- Sunday, 9 January 2022