The old Nelson Airport terminal was conspicuously dark in the predawn hours on Tuesday morning as the new terminal sprang into action.
The $32 million project, designed to mirror the mountainous landscape of the region, marks a new era for the airport.
“It’s been exciting for a while now,” says airport chief executive Rob Evans. “But now this is the realisation of it.”
At 5.30am yesterday, airport marketing staff handed out cupcakes and free coffee cards to awaiting travellers.
Richard Miller, who was travelling with his family to Auckland, did not even realise he would be on the first flight out of the new terminal at 6.05am.
“I had no idea. But it’s really cool. It’s such an amazing space and with Nelson getting more popular you need something to cope and the old one was getting pretty chock-a-block.”
Most airline check-in facilities have been relocated to the new terminal, which also has two cafes and a large waiting area.
Stage one represented 60 per cent of the total project.
Following the relocation of the airline check-in facilities, demolition of the 44-year-old existing terminal building and stage two of the building programme would begin. This would allow space for a bar, airline lounges and offices.
Airport users will also be able to enjoy a whole new retail and hospitality experience in the new terminal where all outlets have been fully let, with a strong focus on local businesses and products.
The new 22-metre high control tower, owned by Airways New Zealand and adjacent to the terminal development, has also just opened.
Check-in for Sounds Air, OriginAir, Golden Bay Air and Nelson Tasman Air have been temporarily located in Airport House, adjacent to the existing old terminal. The Koru
Lounge has also been temporarily located, upstairs at the northern end of the new terminal.
Nelson mayor Rachel Reese was at the airport for the last flights from the old terminal and the first flights from the new terminal.
“It’s a bit of history-making, was there for the last flights and saw the finishing touches. It was really fantastic.”
Airports are places of emotion but this is the story of our region, you walk in and feel you are arriving here. They set out to deliver something special and they have done that.”
The project has been headed by Naylor Love who formed a partnership with Gibbons Construction, Fulton Hogan and a number of Nelson-based subcontractors.
The building uses Nelson-processed laminated veneer lumber (LVL) timber,natural ventilation and solar chimneys.
Nelson Regional Development Agency’s chief executive Mark Rawson said the new terminal would play a critical part in enhancing regional connectivity.