Christchurch International Airport

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Christchurch International Airport
Christchurch Airport logo 2013.jpg
CHC airport.jpg
Aerial view of the airport


CHC is located in New Zealand Christchurch
Location of the airport in Christchurch
Airport type Public
Owner Christchurch City Council (75%)
NZ Government (25%)[1]
Operator Christchurch International Airport Limited
Serves Christchurch
Location Harewood, Christchurch
Hub for Air New Zealand
Elevation AMSL 37 m / 123 ft
Coordinates 43°29′22″S 172°31′56″E / 43.48944°S 172.53222°E / -43.48944; 172.53222Coordinates: 43°29′22″S 172°31′56″E / 43.48944°S 172.53222°E / -43.48944; 172.53222
Direction Length Surface
m ft
02/20 3,288 10,785 Asphalt - Primary
11/29 1,741 5,712 Asphalt - Secondary
02/20 515 1,690 Grass - Aeroclub
Number Length Surface
m ft
12 39
Statistics (July 2013 to July 2014)
Passengers (Total) 5,709,272[2]
Movements 121,112

Christchurch International Airport (IATA: CHCICAO: NZCH) is the main airport that serves Christchurch, New Zealand. It is located 12 kilometres to the northwest of the city centre, in the suburb of Harewood. Christchurch (Harewood) Airport officially opened on 18 May 1940[3] and became New Zealand's first international airport on 16 December 1950.[4] It is the second busiest airport in New Zealand after Auckland by both annual passengers and aircraft movements. Christchurch is one of only two New Zealand airports (the other being Auckland) capable of handling Boeing 777 and Boeing 747 aircraft in regular service. The airport is curfew free operating 24 hours a day.

The prevailing wind in Christchurch is from the north-east and to a lesser extent from the south-west, but the city is also affected by Canterbury's Nor'wester foehn wind. As a result, the airport has two perpendicular runways: a 3300 m primary runway (02/20) orientated with the north-easterly and south-westerly prevailing winds, and a 1750 m secondary runway (11/29) orientated for use during Nor'westers. The airport also has a third grass runway, parallel to the primary runway, for use by general aviation.

Due to increasing passenger numbers, the airport has completed construction on a new domestic terminal upgrade costing $237 million. The new construction's primary wing opened in 2011 and was scheduled for full completion in late 2012, with some work such as demolition and apron works finished in early 2013.

In May 2013 the airport began expelling travellers who tried to sleep at the airport overnight,[5][6] saying they should find proper accommodation, but backed down after neighbours complained people were sleeping rough outdoors.[7]
The airport has direct flights to 18 domestic and 11 international destinations.

Former terminal building and control tower designed by Paul Pascoe
A couple of Mount Cook ATRs at the terminal
A departing Air New Zealand 747-400 in 2010
Air New Zealand BAE146 at Christchurch in 2005
View of Christchurch Airport's new Domestic terminal under construction
Former Nationwide Air Carvair at Christchurch in 1977
Passengers being met by friends on the tarmac off a Qantas 747-200 in 1978
View from the roof deck
Uzbekistan Airways Boeing 767 on a regular charter with fishing crews at Christchurch in 2014
Christchurch airport tower at night
Christchurch Airport check in hall
Aerial view of the Christchurch Airport Terminal


In 1935 a decision was made by the Council to locate new airport at Harewood as the best site for Christchurch. Development of the aerodrome at Harewood commenced in 1936 when 227 hectares of land was purchased. In 1937 A 915-meter runway and a 60 square meter terminal constructed.[8] In 1940 The airport became RNZAF Station Harewood. By 1946 the form of the terminal area development was established with hangars, a small terminal building, the water tower and some barracks buildings. In 1950 Christchurch Airport received clearance for international operations by the Government. The two runways and parallel taxiway concept was established in 1953 runway (02/20) at 2,012 meters and (11/29) at 1,741m. In 1954 TEAL introduced DC-6 aircraft to its Trans Tasman services. February 1960 a new terminal building, designed by Architect Paul Pascoe,[9] was brought into operation.

During 1963 The main runway was extended 427m southwest to 2,442 meters providing for commercial jet operations. In April 1965 Inaugural scheduled Boeing 707 jet services started from Qantas to Sydney. Later in 1966 An international wing was added to the Domestic Terminal. On 14 October 1968 NAC operated its first Boeing 737 to the airport. SAFE Air introduced a Chatham island air link to Christchurch in 2 December 1969. Further in 1972 The north-west runway was completely resealed and repainted. The first scheduled Boeing 747 service arrived on 3 December 1972 a Qantas flight from Sydney. Air New Zealand introduced the DC-10 aircraft to Trans Tasman services in 31 October 1973.

Extensions to the domestic terminal were completed in 1975 with a new two level pier added, extending the total floor space to 16,000 square meters. Later in 1975 on October 8, Air New Zealand began a weekly DC-8 service linking Christchurch to Nadi, Rarotonga and Papeete. Air New Zealand opened their No.1 Hangar at the airport on 3 August 1979. The first scheduled service from Hobart an Ansett DC-9 arrived on 2 December 1980. Then TAA started this same route in December 6, 1980 using Boeing 727 aircraft.[10] On 6 July 1984 the main runway was extended by 845 meters to the northeast to 3,287 meter. In 12 February 1985 Newmans Air started Scheduled Dash-7 services on the tourist routes. The first ever Air New Zealand Boeing 767 service to Melbourne and the inaugural Air NeW Zealand Boeing 747-200 service to Los Angeles via Honolulu and Nadi (known as the southern connection) departed on October 29, 1985.[11] On 8 October 1986 Singapore Airlines started Boeing 747 services to the city. Later in November 1986 the first British Airways Boeing 747 flight from London arrived. On 25 July 1987 Ansett New Zealand started flying Domestic trunk routes using Boeing 737 aircraft. Also in 1987 the Terminal was extended to accommodate Ansett New Zealand and new Air New Zealand lounges and domestic airbridges were added. Thai Airways began a weekly DC-10 service from Bangkok in November 1988. In 9 April 1989 there was the first visit to Christchurch by a British Airways Concorde on a world tour. In 28 September 1990 stage 1 of the Antarctic center was officially opened.

Air Pacific (now Fiji Airways) started a weekly direct flight to Nadi, Fiji in April 1993. Korean Airlines commenced flying to Christchurch in July 12, 1994 using MD-11 aircraft this was a weekly service from Seoul.[12] In April 1997 Origin Pacific Airways started operations at the airport with flights to Nelson. The Canterbury Aero Club opened a new complex to the north-west side of the airport in October 1998. During 15 September 1998 the New international terminal building was completed creating an additional 28,000 square meters of new floor space. In 2004 Expansion of the international terminal to create five more international stands and four more international airbridges. In 4 September 2000 Qantas New Zealand commenced flying taking over from Ansett New Zealand. Pacific Blue Airlines commenced Trans Tasman flights from Christchurch its NZ base from 29 January 2004. Emirates started flying to Christchurch from Dubai and Melbourne with A340 aircraft on 2 July 2004. Jetstar started serving the city with Trans Tasman flights on 1 December 2005. Construction of the five level carpark building commenced in March 2006. Origin Pacific finished operations on 15 September 2006.

Work starts in 2009 on replacing old domestic terminal with a new integrated terminal precinct (ITP) to be built over the existing one. A separate $20 million regional lounge was constructed in 2010 a joint venture by Air NZ and CIAL. The new 45m high Airways New Zealand control tower officially opened on September 2009. In 1 April 2011 Air Asia X commenced A330 services to Kuala Lumpur 3 per week these were short lived ending in May 2012. On 18 April 2013 The new ITP is completed and officially opened by the Prime Minister John Key.[13] China Airlines began serving seasonal flights to Christchurch from Taipei via Sydney with A333 aircraft on 1 December 2014.[14]

Airport redevelopment[edit]

Christchurch Airport recently underwent an extensive expansion project. This began in 2006 when construction commenced on a new multi-storey car park building which opened early 2007. The new building provides 570 new covered car parks. Once it was complete, part of the existing car park area was closed to allow for the extra space required for the expanded footprint of the new terminal building. A new 45m tall control tower, positioned close to the new car park building, opened in September 2009.

In early 2009 work on the new terminal commenced. The new terminal replaces the existing aging domestic terminal and expand the facilities of the much newer international terminal. The new building includes:

  • a combined check-in area servicing both domestic and international passengers,
  • a large landside retail and food precinct,
  • new domestic departure and arrival lounges with enhanced retail facilities,
  • new domestic and expanded international baggage claim areas inclusive of a separate Regional/Small Aircraft Baggage claim,
  • new international customs arrivals area, inclusive of a natural experience of New Zealand[15]
  • three swing-style boarding gates accessible from both the domestic and international departure areas so aircraft do not need to change gates,
  • a new taxiing lane incorporated into the domestic aircraft parking apron to allow for more efficient aircraft movements,
  • new coach and drop off facilities that eliminate the terminal frontage road in accordance with new international ICAO guidelines.

Stage 1 of the new terminal, including the new check-in hall, new food/retail precinct, new single domestic security screening, and the new regional departure lounge and baggage claim of the new terminal was completed in May 2011, allowing the old international check-in and the old domestic terminal north of the main pier to be demolished to make way for Stage 2.[16] Stage 2, which includes the new domestic baggage claim and the northern half of the new domestic departure lounge was completed in February 2012.

The old domestic terminal has been completely demolished to make way for the new terminal. All construction was completed by late 2012, with some work such as demolition of the old pier continuing into 2013. Between 200 and 400 workers were active on the site each work day for almost four years. Despite 11,000 earthquakes, the terminal project was completed on the budget. The new terminal was officially opened by Prime Minister John Key on 18 April 2013.[17]


The preferred option by the airport company for increasing the capacity of the existing runways is by introducing independent operations. This can be achieved by adding a 300m extension to the north-eastern end of the main runway 20/02 which would give it a total length 3,600m. When the prevailing north-easterly winds are blowing this would allow for intersection departures for most aircraft types. While the same types could be landing on runway 11. Large wide body aircraft would still have to use the full length of the runway.[18] Runway 11/29 will be widened and extended 244m North-west into the Harewood golf course, the airport has purchased land from the club already. A Runway end safety area (RESA) will be added to each end to make it comply with ICAO standards. Eventually all the runways will have a RESA. Also Runway 11/29 may be lengthened up to 2,000m to provide for enhanced take-off capability for Code D (e.g. B767) and Code E (e.g.B777, B787, A350) aircraft flying on medium and long haul routes in northwest wind operational conditions. When completed with peak operation periods both runways will be used simultaneously known as SIMOPS.[19] Statistics indicated that Runway 02 was used 70% of the time, Runway 20 at 20%, Runway 29 at 8% and Runway 11 (predominantly for landings) at 2% of the time.

Terminal and Gates[edit]

Christchurch Airport consists of a single terminal which caters for both domestic and international flights. It is situated at the intersection of the two sealed runways. The main terminal building contains a combined check-in hall for both domestic and international flights. It has 58 check-in counters, in addition to self-service check-in kiosks. A common baggage claim hall is also located on the ground floor.[20] There is a large retail area on the first floor, with many food and retail outlets as well as waiting areas. A major feature of the terminal is a $15 million state-of-the-art baggage handling system, which is 750 metres long.[21] The airport has 33 gates in total. The regional wing is located in the south-west of the terminal, and handles all Air New Zealand Link turboprop flights. It has 12 gates, numbered 3-14. The central zone handles mainline Air New Zealand and Jetstar domestic services and has eight gates (15-22) all (except 15 (which can be shared with turboprops)) are equipped with jetbridges. The international wing is located in the north-east section of the terminal and has 12 gates (24-35), all except 31 and 33 have jetbridges. Gates 21/24 and 22/25 are shared swing gates which can be used for domestic or international flights as the need arises.

The size of the new integrated terminal at Christchurch Airport is 77,591m².

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Airlines Destinations Type
Air Chathams Chatham Islands Domestic
Air New Zealand Auckland, Dunedin, Queenstown, Wellington Domestic
Air New Zealand Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Nadi, Sydney
Seasonal: Perth,[22] Rarotonga
Charter: Nagoya-Centrair, Naha, Osaka-Kansai,[23] Port Vila[24]
Air New Zealand Link
operated by Air Nelson
Dunedin, Hamilton, Hokitika, Invercargill, Kapiti Coast, Napier, Nelson, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Rotorua, Tauranga, Wellington Domestic
Air New Zealand Link
operated by Eagle Airways
Blenheim, Hokitika, Nelson Domestic
Air New Zealand Link
operated by Mount Cook Airline
Dunedin, Hamilton, Invercargill, Napier (begins 9 February 2015), Nelson, Palmerston North, Queenstown, Rotorua, Tauranga (begins 14 February 2015), Wellington Domestic
China Airlines Seasonal: Sydney,[25] Taipei-Taoyuan[14] International
Emirates Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Dubai-International, Sydney International
Fiji Airways Nadi International
Jetstar Airways Auckland, Wellington Domestic
Jetstar Airways Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney International
operated by Jetconnect
Sydney International
Singapore Airlines Singapore International
Virgin Australia Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney International

China Southern Airlines has stated it intends to start a Guangzhou to Christchurch service in the future.[26]


Airlines Destinations
Air Freight NZ Auckland, Palmerston North
Air Post Auckland, Palmerston North, Dunedin
Qantas Freight Sydney

Facts & figures[edit]

As the gateway for Christchurch and the South Island, Christchurch International Airport is New Zealand’s second largest airport.

5,592,529 passengers travelled in and out of Christchurch International Airport from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2011.[27] This represented a decrease by approximately 405,000 (-6.7%) over the same period ending 31 December 2010, as a result of the 2010-2011 Christchurch Earthquakes.


Busiest Australian routes out of Christchurch Airport (Financial year 2012-13)[28]
Rank Airport Passengers  % Change Carriers
1  Australia, Sydney 447,801 Increase2.6 Air New Zealand, China Airlines. Emirates, Jetstar, Qantas, Virgin Australia
2  Australia, Melbourne 256,997 Increase 0.5 Air New Zealand, Jetstar, Virgin Australia
3  Australia, Brisbane 221,555 Decrease 18.8 Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia
4  Australia, Gold Coast 69,513 Increase14.9 Air New Zealand, Jetstar
5  Australia, Perth 9,273 Increase 0 Air New Zealand
Busiest Domestic routes in and out of Christchurch Airport (2012)[28]
Rank Airport Passengers  % Change Carriers
1  New Zealand, Auckland 1,134,558 Increase 0.1 Air New Zealand, Jetstar
2  New Zealand, Wellington 789,796 Increase 0.3 Air New Zealand, Jetstar
3  New Zealand, Dunedin 378,567 Increase 0.1 Air New Zealand
4  New Zealand, Queenstown 243,368 Increase 0.1 Air New Zealand



USAF C-17 Globemaster III on the tarmac at Christchurch Airport

Since the closure of Wigram Air Force Base, the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) always flies to Christchurch International Airport when required to visit the city. There are regular RNZAF flights between the main centres of New Zealand. Prior to the withdrawal of the air combat wing, the RNZAF fighter aircraft were also seen at the airport.

With the development of Antarctic scientific expeditions, since the 1950s Christchurch Airport has been the base for all Antarctic flights operated by the United States Navy, United States Air Force, Air National Guard and Royal New Zealand Air Force as part of Operation Deep Freeze. During the Antarctic flying season (which generally operates from August to February), C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules, LC-130 Hercules and L-100 Hercules aircraft are often seen on the Antarctic Apron north of the main passenger terminals. C-5 Galaxy aircraft also make the occasional appearance.

Christchurch airport will be the winter base for the next 20 years for the NASA's SOFIA Space telescope which is fitted inside a 1977 Boeing 747SP (N747NA). The city has been chosen as a southern hemisphere base because of its often cloud-free night skies and lack of atmospheric haze, it has a fairly long airport runway and the relatively empty airspace around the South Island will benefit the research undertaken.[29]

General aviation[edit]

There are several general aviation organisations operating from the airport. Garden City Helicopters operates from a base adjacent to the airport (ICAO: NZGI). It operates a medivac service using fixed-wing aircraft (NZ Flying Doctor Service) and also operates the rescue helicopter in Canterbury with a secondary helipad in Hagley Park adjacent to Christchurch Hospital (ICAO: NZJC). Christchurch Helicopters also operates from the western side of the airfield, next to the Canterbury Aero Club. Christchurch International Airport Limited maintains a grass runway parallel to the primary runway. Both Airwork and Garden City Air Exec operate regular charter flights from Christchurch to all parts of New Zealand and Australia. Mainland Air operates flights to Oamaru.[30] Southern DC3 Ltd operates scenic DC3 flights over Bank's Peninsula from Christchurch airport. Air Safaris runs a link service to Lake Tekapo Airport.[31] Ridge Air runs several charters per week to Blenheim using its Cessna 402C aircraft.
An unusual but regular visitor to Christchurch is Uzbekistan Airways Boeing 767 charters from Tashkent bringing in Russian fishing crews which occurs every six months.

Access, ground transport, and parking[edit]

A drop off and pick up area called 'The Loop' is available on the ground floor of the multi-level car park building, and both onsite and offsite parking, with free shuttles, are available. A number of different taxi and shuttle companies operate services from the airport terminals.

Three different city bus routes service the airport terminal.[32] The Purple route to the central city via Avonhead and Riccarton, continuing to Sumner; the number 29 route to the central city via Fendalton; and the number 125 on its route from Redwood to Halswell.

Incidents and Accidents[edit]

On 21 November 1957 at 11.33 am A SAFE Air Bristol 170 Freighter (ZK-AYH) suffered a catastrophic structural failure on a flight from Paraparaumu to Oamaru and crashed on the Russley Golf Course very near the airport with the loss of all four lives.[33] Air Adventures New Zealand Ltd Piper Navajo Chieftan (ZK-NCA) crashed short of runway 20 on 6 June 2003 with the loss of eight lives. The aircraft was flying too low in foggy weather when it crashed as it approached the runway at Christchurch Airport.[34]

An attempted hijacking of an Eagle Air flight 2279 from Blenheim to Christchurch occurred on 8 February 2008. After landing, the offender was wrestled by the two pilots and she was later arrested at the scene on Runway 29 after the aircraft came to a stop.[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Christchurch International Airport Limited Shareholdings". New Zealand Companies office. 3 December 2012. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Christchurch Chronology". Christchurch City Library. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  4. ^ "Christchurch Chronology". Christchurch City Library. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  5. ^ "No more sleeping in Chch Airport". 3 News NZ. 19 May 2013. 
  6. ^ "Christchurch Airport kicks out freeloading tourists". New Zealand Herald. 18 May 2013. 
  7. ^ "Chch airport relaxes sleeping ban". 3 News NZ. 20 May 2013. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Robertson, Ana. "Pascoe, Arnold Paul - Biography". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 20 June 2012. 
  10. ^ Phillips, Tony (2013). With Great Foresight-The story of Christchurch International Airport. [Christchurch, N.Z.]: The Caxton Press. p. 130. ISBN 9780473265403. 
  11. ^ Phillips, Tony (2013). With Great Foresight-The story of Christchurch International Airport. [Christchurch, N.Z.]: The Caxton Press. p. 145. ISBN 9780473265403. 
  12. ^ Phillips, Tony (2013). With Great Foresight-The story of Christchurch International Airport. [Christchurch, N.Z.]: The Caxton Press. p. 169. ISBN 9780473265403. 
  13. ^ Phillips, Tony (2013). With Great Foresight-The story of Christchurch International Airport. [Christchurch, N.Z.]: The Caxton Press. pp. 258–259. ISBN 9780473265403. 
  14. ^ a b
  15. ^ "Christchurch Airport’s International Arrivals Experience". Future Travel Experience. Retrieved 5 April 2011. 
  16. ^ "Terminal Development Plans & Progress". Christchurch International Airport Limited. May 2011. Retrieved 5 July 2011. 
  17. ^ "Christchurch airport opens new terminal building". 18 April 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  18. ^ Phillips, Tony (2013). With Great Foresight-The story of Christchurch International Airport. [Christchurch, N.Z.]: The Caxton Press. p. 196. ISBN 9780473265403. 
  19. ^ "Amendment of Runway Plan Change". Christchurch City Council. 17 November 2007. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Facts and Figures". Christchurch Airport. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  28. ^ a b International Airline Activity—Annual Publications
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^

External links[edit]