Auckland International Airport completes 1100m of runway repairs without closing

Pass with care.
Pass with care. Photo credit: Auckland International Airport

Auckland Airport's runway will return to its full length on Monday morning after a five month maintenance programme replaced 280 large slabs of concrete which had become damaged over time.

The runway's condition had drawn criticism from airlines and aviation authorities earlier this year after numerous unscheduled closures resulted in hundreds of passengers having their flights diverted to other airports around New Zealand.

In January, a Singapore Airlines flight was forced to head to Ohakea, an RNZAF base north-west of Palmerston North, delaying the travel plans of hundreds of passengers.

In May, the runway was reduced by 1100m, to allow the much needed maintenance work could take place – works which were brought forward following the initial outbreak of COVID-19.

Auckland Airport's general manager of infrastructure André Lovatt said the project had run smoothly with around 12,800 tonnes of concrete transported to the site in 890 truckloads.

"As challenging as COVID-19 has been for those of us in aviation, the downturn provided an opportunity to bring forward this important $26 million project," Lovatt said.

Auckland International Airport completes 1100m of runway repairs without closing
Photo credit: Auckland International Airport

"This was a significant project with 12km of new electrical cabling installed beneath the surface of the runway to support the airfield lighting system."

The airport said an 80-strong construction team worked on the project, creating a total of 150 jobs over the 11-week project.

Lovatt said blast fences have been removed and the first flight to use the runway at full length will be a landing on the morning of August 17. The blast fences were installed to protect workers from the extremely turbulent winds caused by aircraft landing and taking off.

With the project successfully completed, Lovatt said Auckland Airport was considering another smaller-scale project at the western end of the runway to replace a further 80 slabs of concrete.

"Just as with the project at the eastern end, this is work we've already planned and budgeted for," Lovatt said.

"COVID-19 gives us a chance to bring that work forward to take advantage of the downturn in aviation traffic and minimise disruption for airlines."