Nelson Airport chief executive Rob Evans in the airport’s premium carparking area. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Airport parking part of ‘growing up’

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Nelson Airport’s new premium carparking system is not a case of penny pinching but more a symptom of the airport “growing up,” its chief executive says.

The new carparking layout is part of the airport’s $32 million upgrade and has only been around for a short time. It sees visitors charged different rates for how close they park to the terminal.

The value carparks, which are furthest away, are $2 an hour and $60 a week, the main carparks are $3 an hour or $84 a week and the new premium car parks are $5 or $140 a week.

However, the move has caused some confusion with much of the premium park being empty as people don’t know that it is available. Others have called it “revenue gathering” and don’t agree with the idea.

John and Linda Locke didn’t know what the premium parking was when they arrived at the airport on Friday.

“Luckily, we found a park because normally it’s really busy, but we are way over there. We don’t agree with having to pay more for premium parking.”

“I could understand if it was something like Auckland airport where it is a one minute walk versus a 10 minute walk but here when you are just one row closer in premium, there’s no point in paying the extra,” says another local traveller, who did not want to be named.

While the airport’s chief executive Rob Evans admits they have some work to do around the messaging of the new layout, he says it is all about offering choice.

“What we are trying to do here is grow up as an airport and provide differentiated services and products.”

Nelson is the fourth airport that Rob has been involved in and says that the new parking is “airport planning 101”.

The upgrade for the Nelson City and Tasman District council-owned airport is not being funded by ratepayers.

Rob says people are starting to understand the layout, with more cars using the premium service.

“But you also wouldn’t expect it to be full – it’s like the first class on an airplane.”

Rob says there is some work to do around making sure people are aware of the changes.

“There are some teething things that aren’t done or are not quite right.”

However, he says the airport is always thinking about the customer experience and very responsive to feedback.

Recently there had been concern about the lack of bike racks at the terminal entrance, forcing riders to lock their bikes to letterboxes and posts. Rob says another bike rack will soon be put in, and eventually a dedicated bike stand, and bike lane will also be created.

The premium parks are also offered at the normal rate for disabled motorists after initially being part of the premium offering.

The airport is also looking to put in number plate recognition in the carparks – meaning people won’t need to take tickets from the barrier.

The next part of the terminal is due to open in October, followed by areas for Air New Zealand cargo and car rentals.

“We are looking to grow up into what good airports look like. We want to be the best regional airport in New Zealand that’s our mission statement,” Rob says.

He says, there are always going to be people that complain – even about the colour of the terminal and the use of timber.

“We always willing to take the feedback but want to keep on pushing on with our vision.”