Domestic Hub Future Possible For Auckland Airport

New Zealand’s premier airport is forecasting a quieter future with a focus on domestic traffic. That’s their immediate…

Domestic Hub Future Possible For Auckland Airport

New Zealand’s premier airport is forecasting a quieter future with a focus on domestic traffic. That’s their immediate expectation as New Zealand begins to contemplate emerging from a countrywide lockdown that has spared it the worst of the pandemic. But as a consequence of that lockdown, many local industries, including aviation and airports, have been fundamentally altered. Auckland Airport is just one business expecting a different future.

Auckland Airport is expecting a very different future. Photo: Getty Images.

Slower business at Auckland Airport

In 2019, more than 21 million people passed through privately owned Auckland Airport. Before the pandemic, the airport handled about 179,000 aircraft movements annually. The airport is the home of Air New Zealand, while 31 other passenger and six dedicated freight airlines flew in.

Indeed, business was so good that Auckland Airport was busy planning and building infrastructure to encourage and facilitate expected passenger growth. Auckland Airport Chief Executive Adrian Littlewood said in February;

“Despite growth leveling off recently, traveler numbers are estimated to more than double to 40 million-plus per year by 2044. We know that we need to work fast to progress our transformation plans, and our core focus is on delivering the essential aeronautical infrastructure New Zealand needs to succeed for the future.”

Auckland Airport Domestic Hub
Auckland Airport will likely be a lot quieter for the foreseeable future. Photo: Phillip Capper via Flickr.

Fast forward a few months and things have changed. The Blue Swan Daily is reporting Mr Littlewood saying he expects Auckland Airport to be a much smaller, more domestic-focused airport in the short to medium term.

In April 2019, the airport saw about 58,000 passengers a day. In mid-April 2020, that number was down to about 3,500. Those scant numbers are derived from threadbare Air New Zealand domestic and Trans-Tasman services, repatriation services, and a handful of international carriers stoically maintaining services.

Auckland Airport cuts spending and halts infrastructure work

Work on a second runway, airport hotel, parking facilities, and a domestic jet hub have been put into hiatus.

“Auckland Airport is a resilient business, but these are unprecedented times, and we are now moving quickly to identify ways that we can manage the impact on our organization,” Mr Littlewood said.

Auckland Airport Domestic Hub
Auckland Airport has put much of its planned infrastructure spending, including on improved parking, on hold. Photo: Ingolfson via Wikimedia Commons.

Many contractors have been laid off, and airport staff may have to take a pay cut and work reduced hours. The Airport’s board, CEO, and top staff have lead by example here, already taking a 20% pay cut. This is a story repeated at airports around the globe.

A Trans-Tasman travel bubble offers hope for Auckland Airport

But there are already glimmers of hope for Auckland Airport. New Zealand is showing the first signs of coming out of a robust lockdown regime. It parallels what’s going on across the Tasman Sea in Australia. Both countries have avoided the worst excesses of the pandemic by virtue of being relatively remote islands, moving fast to close borders and implementing movement restrictions on their citizens.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden, is now talking about a Trans-Tasman travel bubble, with both New Zealand and Australia opening their borders to the other country’s citizens and residents. It would be the first step in the long process of unwinding border and travel restrictions.

Auckland Airport Domestic Hub getty
Air New Zealand would also benefit from the operation of a Trans-Tasman travel bubble. Photo: Getty Images.

This would see Trans-Tasman traffic resuming. It would be a big step forward for the airlines that ply the route and the airports that service those airlines. Australia is the biggest source of international passengers for Auckland Airport. Three of Auckland’s top five international routes are out of Australia. The sector is also a core component of international operations for airlines such as Air New Zealand and Qantas.

While Auckland Airport’s forecasts for 2020 and 2021 may not be met and the concourses may be quieter than usual, the airport will keep marching forward. In five or ten years, what happened in 2020 will just be part of Auckland Airport’s corporate memory.

Source : Simple Flying More   

What's Your Reaction?


Next Article

Boeing Will Restart 787 Manufacture In Charleston

Boeing has announced that it will resume 787 operations in North Charleston, South Carolina, starting from May 3rd.…

Boeing Will Restart 787 Manufacture In Charleston

Boeing has announced that it will resume 787 operations in North Charleston, South Carolina, starting from May 3rd. These activities were previously suspended on April 8th to avoid further spread of the virus to Boeing employees.

Boeing will resume work on the 787 in South Carolina. Photo: Boeing

787 work will resume in South Carolina

On April 8th, Boeing suspended work on 787s in South Carolina due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Those who were able to work from home continued to work from home. Meanwhile, for others, it was a wait-and-see approach with Boeing providing some assistance for assembly line workers.

Senior leaders at the South Carolina facility will return to work on April 30th. Managers will follow on May 1st. Some workers will return on May 3rd, while others will return on May 4th, depending on the shift of employees.

While the temporary suspension of productions will hamper Boeing’s delivery numbers in 2020, most airlines are seeking to defer new aircraft deliveries amid a global cash crunch. The crisis does continue to take its toll on airlines, and it is unclear when the situation will start to improve, and more airlines start taking on new aircraft.

Boeing 787
In common areas, Boeing has taken precautions to minimize viral transmission. Photo: Boeing

Taking precautions

Boeing South Carolina is taking some precautions to ensure the safety of its employees. The company is cleaning all of the buildings. Restrooms will be pressure washed, and shared spaces like break areas, cafeterias, and conference rooms are being thoroughly cleaned. Across the site, Boeing has established hand sanitizing stations and posted signs reminding people to maintain social distancing in shared areas.

Some of the onus is on employees to support a healthy workspace. Employees are asked to wear their own cloth face masks while some, who work in areas where social distancing is not readily possible, will have to wear procedural masks. Also, there are voluntary temperature screening stations with no-touch thermal scanners.

Employees are being encouraged to bring their own cloth face coverings. Photo: Boeing

787 work in South Carolina

While most people know Boeing’s aircraft production in Seattle, South Carolina is another major center for Boeing. The first facility in the state opened up in 2011. And, since then, the facility has worked on all three versions of the 787. In fact, the largest and newest version of the Dreamliner, the 787-10, was first rolled out in South Carolina.

Boeing rolled out the 787-10 in North Charleston. Photo: Boeing

The facilities in South Carolina are environmentally friendly. The site was the first Boeing facility to be powered by 100% renewable energy. Some of that energy comes from solar panels on the roof of the 787 Final Assembly building. Also, Boeing South Carolina sends no waste to a landfill.

The first 787-8 from South Carolina went to Air India. Photo: Boeing

North Charleston is also a hub for Dreamlifters. The Dreamlifter fleet of modified Boeing 747-400s carry parts of the 787 around the world and support supply chain operations. Once the South Carolina plant reopens, the Dreamlifters will continue to support the 787 production process.

In the meantime, Boeing marshaled the Dreamlifter to fly in personal protective equipment from Hong Kong. 1.5 million face masks took a ride in the Dreamlifter to Greenville– another city in South Carolina.

Do you think Boeing is making the right choice? Let us know in the comments!

Source : Simple Flying More   

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.