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Auckland International Airport will be separated into two zones in anticipation of a safe air corridor being formed between New Zealand and the Cook Islands.
Auckland Airport chief executive Adrian Littlewood said it was building new internal walls at its international terminal so it could be split into two self-contained processing zones, which would operate shortly after a travel bubble was announced.
“By reconfiguring our terminal into two separate zones we are creating a safe way for people to travel to and from countries that we have formed a travel bubble with, as well as being able to safely process New Zealanders arriving from other countries,” Littlewood said.
Meanwhile Kevin Ward of the New Zealand Aviation Coalition (NZAC), an industry group representing New Zealand airlines and airports, said Christchurch, Wellington and Queenstown airports also had effective systems in place and were awaiting approval from government border agencies and health services.
He said the New Zealand aviation sector was well advanced in its planning for non-quarantine flights from countries without community transmission of Covid-19.
Auckland Airport’s plan involves creating a safe area in the international terminal, dubbed Zone A, where gates 1 to 10 on its main pier to the south will be used by people travelling to and from countries with which New Zealand has formed a safe travel bubble.
People who have been in New Zealand for more than 14 days and are departing on international flights will also use Zone A.
Retail and food and drink options will be available in Zone A.
Zone B, will be its “health management area” created at gates 15 to 18 on Pier B that points to the west.
It will be used for travellers arriving from countries with which New Zealand does not have a safe travel bubble, and who are required to undergo either managed isolation or quarantine.
It will also be used for passengers transiting through Auckland Airport en route elsewhere.
Food and beverage options will be made available via vending machines.
Zone B will also feature a separate border processing facility.
Littlewood said it was working through the final stages of planning with border agencies and airlines to make the separation possible.
When Zone A opened it would provide a similar experience to how people travelled through the terminal before Covid-19, he said.
“The usual departure and security formalities will be in place followed by a retail and food and beverage area, with flights departing from International Pier A.”
Access to International Pier B will be completely closed off to these travellers.
“It will also mean we use buses and remote stands more frequently to ensure the careful separation and processing of passengers departing and arriving from different parts of the world.”
Justin Tighe-Umbers, who co-chairs the NZAC, said separating travellers based on their country of origin was an important measure in the fight against Covid-19 and airlines supported the move.
“Auckland Airport creating two terminals is an innovative move that will allow airlines to grow capacity as we open up safe zones with other countries.”
Wellington Airport chief executive Steve Sanderson said it too was ready to handle passengers from a Pacific bubble.
All Pacific passengers could be safely processed in the main terminal buildings, fully segregated from domestic travellers using an existing movable wall and an additional path.
“Our plan also enables us to quickly reinstate additional health checks for departing passengers if required,” he said.
Repatriation flights from Covid-19 zones into Wellington were handled entirely on the western side of the airport, across the runway from the main terminal and passengers couldn’t mingle with the public before being bussed to quarantine facilities.
“We have worked on this plan with local representatives of border and security agencies over the last week and are now waiting on government approval,” Sanderson said.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is not expecting air travel to return to pre-Covid-19 levels until 2024
SOURCE: STUFF NZ/PACNEWS
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