Two years ago, news of the 10 busiest days at Auckland Airport would have been a warning to the thousands of travellers using it each day; but in 2021, the same announcement feels more like a cause for celebration.
Auckland Airport is preparing for its busiest day since the outbreak of COVID-19 as Kiwis head off around New Zealand for well-deserved breaks during the July school holidays.
This Friday, around 28,000 guests will use the domestic terminal - the highest number since March 2020, when aviation around the globe was hit by the pandemic.
Top 10 domestic travel days for July school holidays are as follows:
- Friday, July 9
- Friday, July 16
- Friday, July 23
- Sunday, July 11
- Sunday, July 18
- Sunday, July 25
- Monday, July 12
- Thursday, July 15
- Monday, July 19
- Thursday, July 22
General Manager of Operations at Auckland Airport Anna Cassels-Brown said airport staff were gearing up to welcome the increase in traveller numbers.
"Our staff have been working steadily through the recovery of the aviation and travel sector - now we're ready and excited about our biggest day since the outbreak of the pandemic," she said.
"Throughout July we're expecting domestic travellers to number around 90 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels."
More than 700,000 arrivals and departures are forecast in Auckland Airport's domestic terminal in July. Airlines have responded to increased demand for domestic travel by putting on more services, with 4000 domestic flights going into and out of Auckland Airport during July - a 44 percent increase on the same period last year.
Cassels-Brown said while domestic customer volumes were strong and families had been reconnecting across the Tasman, quarantine-free travel with the Cook Islands was also proving popular for Kiwis wanting a sunshine holiday.
"Over the two weeks of the school holidays, we're expecting around 10,000 travellers to fly to and from Rarotonga, taking advantage of the quarantine-free travel arrangements with the Cook Islands," she said.
While Auckland Airport will be busier, so too will its team of cleaners. The business follows Ministry of Health protocols for dealing with COVID-19 and has increased the frequency of cleaning inside both terminals since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Since quarantine-free travel opened, a split-terminal system has operated for international travellers.
If you're flying to Australia or Rarotonga, your journey will be very familiar with many retailers and duty-free stores are open as per usual.
"The main difference you'll notice is the requirement to wear a mask as you go through the arrivals area upon your return to Auckland Airport. At no time will you cross paths with passengers who are going into MIQ, though," Cassels-Brown said.
The most popular destinations for travellers out of Auckland are Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.