Airport terminal plans take off

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Nelsonians love to fly and the new head of the region’s airport says he is determined to give the region an airport to be proud of.

Nelson Airport’s new CEO Rob Evans was appointed to the role in December, and he says it’s an exciting time to be appointed with a major expansion project of the airport terminal now underway.

Last week, Studio Pacific Architects and Impact Project Management were appointed to the airport’s redevelopment project, a key step, says Rob.

“It’s a good step. The reality is these things take time. It could be a year before we start building and two to three years before it will be finished, but it’s important that we consult as we go.”

The new terminal will be planned to cope with growth for the next 20 years and Rob says it will include more space, better amenities, better toilets, a bigger Air New Zealand lounge, more efficient check-in and more retailers. He says the car parking at the airport also needs to be sorted but he’s looking forward to the challenge.

“It’s a fantastic time to be in the region, there’s quite a positive feel about the place and it’s pretty buoyant. This business itself is in a good place. So it’s a great time to be here and I’ve got three to five years of fun ahead of me.”

With Kiwi Regional Airlines announcing they will be basing their crew in Nelson and with Sounds Air’s continued growth, Rob says the region is well supported.

“In terms of airline companies, the more the merrier, but they need to be profitable. The good thing with KRA is that they’ve said they’ll stick to routes not serviced by Air New Zealand, so that will mean we’ll be getting new markets, new routes and new passengers as opposed to just cannibalising existing routes. Air New Zealand has a huge importance here and we need to work closely with them.”

With a forecast 760,000 people flying in or out of Nelson Airport next year, Rob says passenger numbers will continue to grow.

“It’s important to remember that people don’t fly to an airport. But we have a vested interest in airlines filling up their planes like they do. “Fortunately, we have a really fantastic tourism product, it’s a great part of the world and quite beautiful really.”