The work, scheduled to start in early 2020, will take 12-18 months and will see a complete refurbishment of the terminal. The project will mean an improved departure area, new furniture, new flooring, new interior colours, more dedicated workspaces with charging units and digital display units to showcase local history, innovation, tourism and events.The new look will include artwork from Waikato-based artists as well as living green walls.Stage two of the project is likely to include improvements to the terminal entrance, more landscaping and trees, a pedestrian-friendly plaza and an improved drop-off area for passengers. Rental cars will be relocated out of the main carpark, the taxi stand will be moved and the road entrance into the airport reconfigured and improved.Waikato Regional Airport Ltd (WRAL) chief executive Mark Morgan says the investment was being made on the back of strong growth as well a ‘very solid’ forecast increase in passengers.‘Over the past three years we’ve had a 24% increase in passengers through the airport. On all routes, passenger growth has already outstripped the new capacity that was made available over the past 12 months,’ he says.During 2018 passenger numbers on direct flights from Hamilton to Christchurch, Wellington and Palmerston North grew by 9% but overall seat capacity grew by 3%.Hamilton is also ahead of numbers nationally, Morgan says.
In March 2019, Air New Zealand recorded a 4.7% year-on-year increase in domestic passengers. Hamilton Airport recorded a 10% increase over the same period.‘Many peak flights were leaving Hamilton absolutely full which indicates there is demand for more seats. So the numbers are very strong and given some of the low fares now available out of Hamilton, we’re absolutely confident that if further capacity is added, passenger growth will continue.’Morgan said his team was working with airlines to advocate for more flights from Hamilton.‘We’re expecting more capacity between Christchurch and Hamilton over the winter. We’d also love to see better connections through to popular destinations like Nelson and Dunedin but those are business decisions for Air New Zealand to make and we respect that.’The project would be funded directly by WRAL and would not require any financial support from WRAL’s five shareholding councils of Hamilton City, Otorohanga, Waipa, Waikato and Matamata-Piako. Tenders for early contractor involvement were already out and he expected a main contractor to be appointed by mid-June. Until then, he would not be more specific on costs.The airport upgrade announcement follows the makeover of the Hamilton Airport Hotel by Jet Park Hotels that is now underway. When complete, it would offer four-star conference and accommodation facilities on the airport’s doorstep.