“Currently up to 30% of traffic at the Airport is using the drop-off area as a through road. We are a busy airport on a compact site close to the city and it’s vital that the Airport’s roads are used for their intended purpose – to make it quick, easy and safe for passengers and visitors to enter and leave the Airport,” Chief Operating Officer, John Howarth said.
“After erecting ‘Airport Traffic Only’ signs nearly a year ago, there has been no reduction in traffic, causing stress for many travellers with some missing flights. The capacity is not available to accommodate non-airport vehicles over what has grown into a very busy road,” Mr Howarth said.
A new ramp will be developed at the northern entrance of the Airport and will have two lanes for vehicles to access the drop-off zone in front of the terminal, which will be expanded to make it safer and easier for passengers. A dedicated taxi-only lane will be created, separate from the public drop-off area.
Barrier arms will also be installed at both ends of Stewart Duff Drive to reduce non-airport traffic driving through the airport. It will remain free for people to drop-off and pick-up, with the current five minute free-exit period staying in place.
The new design makes it safer to walk from the car park into the terminal and enables better access for all modes of transport, including new facilities for cyclists and pedestrians, and improves the route taken by the Airport Flyer bus.
The barrier arms are designed to discourage non-airport traffic from using the drop-off area at the front of the terminal as a through road by requiring vehicles to stop and take a ticket before entering and exiting the Airport.
Mr Howarth said Wellington Airport had the highest number of passengers per square metre in Australasia, and passenger numbers were expected to double to 10 million per annum by 2030.
“We need to carefully manage traffic flows and in particular reduce the non-airport traffic travelling between the South Coast and Cobham Drive via the Airport’s roads,” Mr Howarth said.
“In designing the changes we worked closely with traffic design consultants to look at all the options. The difference in travel time between Miramar and the South Coast via Rongotai, rather than the Airport, is negligible. There would be no time difference for trips between the South Coast and Evans Bay Parade. However the benefit for the 25,000 people accessing the airport every day is significant,” Mr Howarth said.
The barrier arms will be placed at the northern and southern approaches to the Airport on Stewart Duff Drive. All vehicles passing though the barriers will be issued with a parking ticket. Vehicles will have up to five minutes to drop off or pick up passengers before any car parking fees are charged.
“A five minute grace period is already within the time needed to drop-off or pick up a passenger at the Airport without parking. With the new ramp providing immediate access to the front of the terminal, drop off times will be even quicker,” Mr Howarth said.
“At peak times traffic must keep moving to ensure that passengers are not delayed by queues. The grace period will give people enough time to drop off passengers safely while also ensuring that people move on within a reasonable period to make way for others,” Mr Howarth said.
Construction on the development will commence at the beginning of July and is expected to be complete and implemented by the end of the year. Car park staff will be on hand to ensure that people driving to the Airport are not inconvenienced during the construction stages.