Building a strong foundation for the future of domestic travel

07 August 2023

Progress in Auckland Airport's new domestic terminal with test piling underway

Test piles bored up to 11 storeys deep into the airfield signal a major milestone as a brand-new domestic terminal at Auckland Airport goes into the final stages of design.

Across the 30,000m2 footprint of the new domestic terminal, to be completely integrated into the existing international terminal, more than 14 test piles are being drilled up into the ground.

André Lovatt, Chief Infrastructure Officer at Auckland Airport, said information gathered from the test piles will help design the 600 or so piles that will form the foundations of the up to 28m high building and the 240m long aircraft pier.

“This is the biggest project Auckland Airport has ever built. After the years of planning and pandemic delays, it really is exciting to be at the point where we’re doing the test piling and finishing off the detailed design work that is going to bring to life a great customer experience for travellers,” said Mr Lovatt.

“With so many foundation piles needed for the new terminal, we need to create a really accurate picture of how far down it is until we hit the solid founding layer the building will sit on. That helps make sure we know exactly how many piles will be needed and the precise amount of steel and concrete required for each one – vital information from both a structural and budget perspective.”
To understand what’s below ground and when that firm base is reached, steel tubes are slowly drilled while an operator in the drilling rig cab monitors and records the force needed and the final depth reached.

The exploratory test piling will be done over the next three months across seven areas running the full footprint of the terminal, from the front façade in what is currently the airport’s valet and staff parking area right out into the airfield where the pier, with 12 jet-only gates, will finish. Five of the drill sites are on protected work areas out on the airfield, with the other two behind site hoardings with container walkways provided an extra layer of protection for people walking between the airport’s two terminals.

“It’s a busy part of the airport for these teams to work in and you’ll need to look closely to spot the piling rigs. Generally, it will take about 12 days to do the work on each site and once finished, the pavement is repaired and goes back to normal use for the time being.”

As the test piling takes place, across the road from the new domestic terminal building site, work continues to crank up on the new Transport Hub. Set to open in the new year, a brand-new pick-up and drop-off zone running under the 200m long building will transform the experience of arriving and departing from the front door of the international terminal.

Work to complete the initial stages of the Transport Hub needs to be done before the construction of the new domestic terminal can get underway.

“We need to stage these two separate projects very carefully to make sure we can provide a smooth, and importantly, safe airport experience for customers coming to and from the airport. A big part of that will be taking public traffic using the road in front of the international terminal and moving it into the new and much larger pick-up and drop-off area running underneath the new Transport Hub.

There’s going to be a lot of change coming to the airport in the next year or so, but it’s pretty exciting to get underway with this build.”


For further information and hi-res images contact:

Helen Twose
Communications Manager
[email protected]