|IATA: IVC – ICAO: NZNV|
|Operator||Invercargill Airport Ltd|
|Elevation AMSL||5 ft / 2 m|
Invercargill Airport (IATA: IVC, ICAO: NZNV) is a controlled aerodrome located 1 nautical mile (2 km) west of the city centre of Invercargill at the bottom of the South Island of New Zealand. It is the southernmost controlled airport in the Commonwealth. Formed on land reclaimed from the Waihopai/New River Estuary in 1938, the airport was prone to flooding, notably in 1984 when it was inoperable for two months. The Invercargill City Council considered moving the airport back to Dawson Farm, Myross Bush, the original site up to 1942. Instead, a large flood protection scheme was built, but during its construction heavy rain and an unusually high tidal surge flooded it again in 1987. There have been no problems since. The airport has a single terminal and 4 tarmac gates.
Today's airport is located on what was a tidal estuary lake. The site was chosen as it is closer to the city than the original aerodrome, Dawson Farm, located a then considerable 10 km away northeast of Invercargill. The draining and stabilising of land began in 1936. The continual draining of the surrounding land was (and still is) achieved with the use of a large canal and tidal pumping system. In summer months[why?] the area is below mean sea level. It took until 1939 before a rudimentary landing strip was considered acceptable for light aircraft to land. By then World War Two had begun and the RNZAF used it as an auxiliary field while Dawson Farm remained the air force's aerodrome of choice as heavier patrol bombers could land there. The city council built two hangars and the air force a larger facility. Pre-fabricated office blocks provided basic administration facilities.
The airport's first scheduled service was in 1944 by Union Airways' Lockheed 10 Electra flying from Dunedin. The terminal facilities were little more than two small sheds at the time; and a Union Airways limousine bus service provided passengers a direct link to the downtown terminal located on The Crescent.
When the Government nationalized all airlines to create NAC in 1947, the Electra service was replaced by de Havilland DH.89s. Once the new paved runway was created in 1956 along with a new substantial but temporary terminal, Douglas DC-3s began operating. Meanwhile, a local airline, Amphibian Airways had started the Stewart Island route in the early 1950s, using Grumman Widgeons. The amphibians also serviced isolated coastal lighthouses and their settlements. Stewart Island Air Services took over in the late 1970s, and was then taken over by Southern Air in 1981, which still provides the air service to Stewart Island as Stewart Island Flights.
The runway was lengthened periodically over the years to cater for larger aircraft in time, such as NAC Fokker F27s (1961), NAC Vickers Viscount (1969), culminating with NAC's Boeing 737-200 type in 1975. Other aircraft such as RNZAF Boeing 727-100 and Ansett New Zealand BAe 146s have used the runway with ease.
The passenger terminal facilities have developed around a striking permanent "Festival of Britain" two-level structure built in 1963, which features a distinctive lozenge-shaped roof and fully glazed airside walls giving great views of the runway from the upper deck. A ground-level outdoor viewing gallery allowed passengers and wellwishers to mingle; this area has since been closed to all but passengers. It was built against the original small 1956-built "temporary" terminal which was turned into the freight and baggage area. The small control tower in the original structure became a convenient skylight upon the completion of a standard NZCAA five-storey "flowerpot" control tower in 1962. A jetway was added by Air New Zealand in 1988 to ease passenger comfort during inclement weather. Although spacious at the time, the terminal is now considered to be too small for the intensive frequency of services now in use. Free WiFi, Cafe/Bar, ATM, Accommodation/Destination and Rental Car facilities are provided. Air New Zealand's, Koru Lounge is located on the second floor.
In 2013 the airport announced a new terminal building was to be constructed at a cost of $13.3 million, with construction funded by Invercargill City Holdings Ltd (Holdco); the current terminal is over 50 years old and has major seismic issues. The new building will be single-storey and built on the site of the current airport in three stages over approximately 20 months. It will be a single-level building with an area of 2900 m2, only slightly bigger than the existing terminal of 2600 m2. Work is expected to finish in late 2015.
Small is more
Regular jet services operated into the airport until 1995, when Air New Zealand restructured all its secondary provincial routes after subsidiary Mount Cook Airline introduced the 68-seat ATR 72-200 into service. Though a turboprop aircraft similar in size to the Viscount, it allowed a higher frequency of departure choices up to eight every weekday including late evenings. The larger-capacity 737s were restricted to three departures a day (including a short morning flight to Dunedin and onto Wellington) with the last flight out at 1630hrs. Air New Zealand resisted local pressure not to remove the jets, convincing Southlanders that the smaller ATR (and later, Q300) aircraft would allow for a higher frequency of service with minimal time difference. When fellow subsidiary Air Nelson joined the Invercargill route with the 50-seat Q300 (an aircraft the size of a Fokker F27-500), this allowed a new non-stop route to Wellington, giving Southlanders direct access to the nation's capital. During mid-2003 Eagle Airways operated a Saturday CHC–IVC–CHC service with the B1900D, however this was short lived, lasting only 6 months as it was found that a larger aircraft was needed. Origin Pacific also operated flights into Invercargill using the Metro, J31 and J41. Since Origin ceased operations, Air New Zealand increased the frequency of its flights, and now up to ten daily departure choices are available.
Regular types using the airport now are the ATR 72 and the Dash 8 Q-300. Occasionally Boeing 737s or Airbus A320s are diverted to Invercargill due to inclement weather in Queenstown or Dunedin and for charter flights and sports events.
Air New Zealand is the major carrier operating from the airport. Subsidiaries Air Nelson and Mount Cook Airline operate Bombardier Q300 and ATR-72 types, respectively. Air Nelson has a small maintenance base to service Q300s and ATR-72s as up to three aircraft are stabled overnight.
A fully covered baggage carousel was commissioned in 2001. Air New Zealand and Invercargill Airport Ltd shared the cost of refurbishing the Jetway in 2008; this was used on its fleet of ATRs and Boeing 737s. The Jetway was removed in August 2013 as plans for the new single level terminal were revealed to Air New Zealand. The Jetway is now reused in Christchurch's airport refurbishments.
In 2005, the runway was extended to 2,210 m at a cost of NZ$5 million, as of 2012[update] it is the third-longest civilian runway in New Zealand, capable of handling aircraft of Boeing 737/Airbus A320 type sized aircraft. The airport has adopted a masterplan to cater for diversions. The terminal apron and gates can permanently sustain aircraft no larger than an Airbus A320 (although baggage container handling equipment is unavailable for this type). RNZAF C-130, Boeing 757-200 and USAF C17 Globemaster transports are occasional visitors. The apron is marked out as a turn in, turn out but a towing tractor is available for push-back operations. The airport is currently in the planning process of a long term $5.5M facelift; the construction of an arterial road and a covered walkway to the terminal has been completed. The enlargement of the terminal building to provide fully integrated security jet air service standards is planned for development by 2015. Runway resurfacing with a fresh top of asphalt over its older sections in 2011 has helped to increase weight limits for aircraft usage.
International Technical Stopover
Invercargill Airport has had aspirations from the 1980s through to the 2000s as an international destination with proposals that have failed to get off the ground with nearby Queenstown being developed as a more direct route for jet aircraft. Nonetheless, Invercargill is now used as a fill-up point for international services thanks to its longer runway.
Since July 2012, Air New Zealand has used Invercargill as a technical stop when conditions in Queenstown restrict aircraft from taking off with sufficient fuel to fly directly to Australia due to inclement weather or operational reasons (e.g. high payload). In the past such flights have been routed through Christchurch, adding two hours to the journey, but by comparison going via Invercargill saves one hour. As this is a technical stopover passengers are not able to leave the aircraft. During 2012 only two A320s were routed through Invercargill.
Invercargill does not have the appropriate border control measures to service international flights. Customs Officers from the nearby Port of Bluff provide official security services when aircraft are uplifting fuel. Virgin Australia and Qantas are also looking to use Invercargill as a standby technical stopping point for their Queenstown service to Australia, once again due to the benefit of the airport's longer runway.
Minor Military and Antarctic operations role
Although only ever a backup airport during World War II, military operations have remained rare due to Christchurch being chosen as the main Operation Deep Freeze Base in 1949 and what was then Dunedin's Taieri Aerodrome acting as a departure point for shorter range aircraft heading south. The occasional Antarctic flight did land at Invercargill if Taieri was closed. JATO power was needed to assist heavily laden aircraft off the ground. The noise from JATO-powered take-offs, usually in the small hours, could be heard quite some distance away in Otatara.
Today the airport is visited by aircraft of the United States ANG, Australian RAAF, Italy's Aeronautica Militare and RNZAF as part of Antarctic flight diversion training. The RNZAF has used the airfield area for their Wise Owl week-long exercises at least twice a decade.
Airlines and destinations
|Air New Zealand Link operated by Air Nelson||Christchurch (ends 28 October 2016), Wellington|
|Air New Zealand Link operated by Mount Cook Airline||Christchurch, Wellington|
|Stewart Island Flights||Stewart Island|
- List of airports in New Zealand
- List of airlines of New Zealand
- Transport in New Zealand
- List of busiest airports in New Zealand
- 2013 Annual report
- 2014 Annual report
- Poole, Michele (26 July 2013). "Could a flood this bad happen again?". The Southland Times. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
- "New terminal building for Invercargill Airport". Invercargill City Council. 17 July 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
- Invercargill Airport Limited
- Invercargill City Council|Southland Times
- Invercargill Airport Ltd|website
- Cowlishaw, Shane (26 July 2013). "$5.5m facelift unveiled for Invercargill Airport". The Southland Times. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
- Harding, Evan (17 May 2012). "International at last". Southland Times. Fairfax. Retrieved 2012-05-17.
- "Invercargill airport goes International for a day". Southland Times. Fairfax. 4 March 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-04.
- Southern DC3 Oddisey, 1996 | Christchurch Antarctic Centre | Southland Museum
- Invercargill City Council/Library Archives
- NZ network changes
- Air NZ online timetable