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Airfield Lighting at Queenstown Airport in New Zealand

24 May 2016  •  Author(s): Airways New Zealand

Queenstown Airport is the gateway to one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations and is experiencing unprecedented growth. Its alpine terrain and fluctuating weather also make the aviation environment challenging for air transport operations. Airways New Zealand reveals how a major lighting and infrastructure upgrade is making evening flights in and out of the airport possible for the first time, unlocking extensive economic benefits for the region.

Airfield Lighting at Queenstown Airport in New Zealand

Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) has long been paving the way for evening flights, but despite holding resource consent to operate from 6am until 10pm, until now infrastructure has only supported daylight operations. Queenstown Airport now has a very clear roadmap of the technology, infrastructure and operational steps required to make evening flights happen.

Rapid growth

Queenstown Airport is the fastest growing airport in Australasia, with passenger numbers reaching 1.5 million in the 12 months to December 2015, up 14% on the previous year and representing yet another annual record. Domestic passenger numbers alone tallied over one million for the first time in airport history. Queenstown Airport – which acts as a main trunk airport (with the others traditionally being Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch) – recorded almost 50,000 aircraft movements in 2015 which is a 28% increase over the last five years. This is a significantly steeper growth than has been experienced by any other New Zealand airport.

There is a high demand for direct trans-Tasman services, particularly during the ski season, which drives an intense period of mid-afternoon activity in winter as airlines hustle to turn around aircraft before the onset of twilight. Queenstown Airport has seven jet gates and without the option for aircraft to hold in the air, there have been rare occasions where flights have been held on the taxiway.

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