The long-awaited construction of Auckland Airport's combined domestic and international terminal is a step closer as two critical infrastructure projects get underway.
The airport is spending $300 million to build a new transport centre in front of the international terminal, along with a smart baggage system designed to serve the combined terminal.
The work has been three years in the making.
"This is an exciting development that we have been planning for many years, and one that will transform the experience for customers entering and leaving the combined domestic and international terminal, making the process much easier and faster," airport chief executive Carrie Hurihanganui said.
"It's an essential first move which will allow us to get on and build a new domestic travel experience at the eastern end of the international terminal and minimise disruption to customers."
The transport hub would include two traffic lanes into an undercover pick-up and drop-off area with a short covered walk into the terminal.
The ground floor of the four-storey hub will be built to double-height to accommodate buses and cars, while the upper floors feature smart car parking and electric vehicle charging stations, with an attached five-green-star rated office building.
Hurihanganui said the airport had also taken steps to set aside adjoining land to provide for a proposed integrated mass transit light rail service, while the inner forecourt road would be dedicated to buses and commercial transport.
The airport was also updating its baggage handling, which included the demolition of the international terminal's eastern baggage hall.
"The work we are doing now will clear the path for a new super-smart baggage system to be developed at Auckland Airport, which is all about speed and convenience for travellers, while also ensuring their bags continue to arrive at the right place at the right time," Hurihanganui said.
"While the pandemic has hit aviation sector finances hard, it did provide us with a unique opportunity to progress work today that doesn't necessarily have really big dollar values attached, but would potentially be either difficult, risky, or highly disruptive if we waited until we're operating with high passenger volumes," she said.
Hurihanganui said these building projects were important stepping stones towards the construction of a domestic and international terminal, which was expected to cost in excess of a billion dollars to build.