New Plymouth Airport

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New Plymouth Airport
Airport type Public
Owner New Plymouth District Council[1]
Operator New Plymouth District Council
Location New Plymouth
Elevation AMSL 30 m / 97 ft
Coordinates 39°00′31″S 174°10′45″E / 39.00861°S 174.17917°E / -39.00861; 174.17917Coordinates: 39°00′31″S 174°10′45″E / 39.00861°S 174.17917°E / -39.00861; 174.17917
NPL is located in Taranaki Region
Location of airport in Taranaki
Direction Length Surface
m ft
05R/23L 1,000 3,281 Grass
05L/23R 1,310 4,298 Asphalt
14/32 1,200 3,937 Grass
Statistics (2016[2])
Passengers 411,661
New Plymouth Airport control tower in 1970.

New Plymouth Airport (IATA: NPL, ICAO: NZNP) serves the city of New Plymouth, and the surrounding region of Taranaki. It is on the west coast of New Zealand's North Island and is 11 km from the city centre, on the highway north to Auckland, and 4 km from the outer suburb/satellite town of Bell Block.

New Plymouth Airport consists of two domestic terminal buildings. The main airport terminal building is currently 1430 square metres, and Terminal 2 is 420 square metres.

It is currently undergoing a $28.7 million terminal upgrade which is expected to be complete by 2019 which will increase the terminal floor size by more than double its current size and include new features like security screening and mechanical baggage claims.[3]

New Plymouth Airport is served by Air New Zealand with direct flights to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch daily operated on behalf of the national airline carrier by Mount Cook Airline and Air Nelson. Jetstar Airways commenced services between New Plymouth and Auckland on 1 February 2016.

From 29 September 2017, Originair began direct flights between New Plymouth and Nelson, New Zealand. The airline provides eight 50 minute flights a week between the two cities. The company’s British Aerospace 18-seat Jetstream aircraft fly the route and the company is adding another Jetstream to its operations to cover contracted charter flights, tours and maintenance coverage.[4]

Jetstar Airways had originally planned to conduct 27 weekly return flights between New Plymouth and Auckland however only 20 return flights weekly had been offered.[5] The Jetstar flights are operated by Eastern Australia Airlines.[6]

In terms of passenger numbers, it was the 9th busiest in New Zealand in 2016, with 411,661 people flying to the airport, a 20.3 percent increase on 2015 statistics. Jetstar's new regional services to New Plymouth was responsible for the large jump, according to airport management.[2] Hence, more people fly to New Plymouth than other cities with larger populations such as Hamilton and Tauranga. In October 2009, New Plymouth Airport was voted as the best regional airport in New Zealand.[7]


The original airport opened in 1933 with the New Plymouth Airport Act. It had five runways, the longest of which was around 1,500 m (5,000 ft). During World War II, the airport became RNZAF Bell Block Airbase. Les Munro, one of the pilots in the Dambusters Raid, soloed here on the Tiger Moth. Post war, the airport returned to civilian use, and was used by New Zealand National Airways Corporation with links to Whenuapai (Auckland) and Paraparaumu (Wellington).

In line with a general improvement throughout the 1950s and 1960s, of New Zealand's infrastructure, and National Airways Corporation (NZNAC) acquisition of Fokker F27 Friendships, New Plymouth's airport was reviewed. In view of the undulating land, the need for a tarmac runway for the F27, and the clearer approach paths required, a new airfield was soon under construction at the end of Brown Road (recently renamed Airport Drive). During construction of the airport, a small hill at the west end of the runway had to be levelled off, due to take-off and landing path infringements. This was rather controversial, due to said hill being a Māori burial ground. The government of the day decided to go ahead with construction anyway, and despite protests, the hill was levelled. Part of it still remains. The airport opened in 1966, replacing a grass airfield 3 km southwest, which is now industrial land. The foundation stone from the original airport, and a stone commemorating RNZAF Bell Block, were moved to the new airport when it opened.

The original terminal was renovated during the 1990s. The observation deck upstairs was removed at this time, and the outside observation area was removed in 2005, due to rising security concerns worldwide.


New Plymouth Airport has two domestic terminal buildings. The main terminal building is equipped with a cafe, a Koru Regional Lounge and Air New Zealand check-in counters. The second terminal building known as Terminal 2 is occupied by low-cost airline Jetstar Airways and Nelson based Originair.

In August 2015 when Jetstar announced they would commence services to New Plymouth in December 2015, the plans were delayed until 1 February 2016 to allow for a $1 million terminal building to be created at New Plymouth Airport dedicated to Jetstar's regional services. The main terminal building was too small for two commercial airline carriers and therefore a second building was required. Additional aircraft gates were also added.[8]

Terminal 2 is equipped with two Jetstar check-in counters, two Originair check-in counters and a baggage claim area. The two terminal buildings have 8 aircraft gates combined, of which Terminal 2 exclusively uses Gate 8. Jetstar and Originair is expected to relocate into the main terminal building once upgrades to the airport are completed.[9]

Originair will use Terminal 2 at mid-day for their single flight to and from Nelson, where as Jetstar flights to and from Auckland only operate in mornings and afternoon/evenings. Therefore, the two airlines are able to share the same facilities and the single gate, as they do not clash with each other's flights. It's expected additional aircraft gates will be added by the end of 2017.

New Plymouth Airport has a control tower with services provided by Airways Corporation. It is staffed from 6am to around 8 pm on weekdays, and reduced hours on weekends, to coincide with airline traffic movements. There is also one fire rescue unit and another small emergency unit based at New Plymouth Airport.

The airport's only sealed taxiway connects the apron and the asphalt runway, so aircraft taxi on the runway, and commence take off roll from runway ends. New Plymouth Airport is infamous for crosswinds, due mostly to the fact that although the tarmac runway faces into the prevailing SSW wind the area regularly receives a strong SSE/SE. The cross runway is not sealed, and thus airline traffic is limited to the tarmac runway, parallel to the sea. The tarmac runway is equipped with low intensity runway lighting, runway end lighting, and Precision Approach Path Indicators. The sealed taxiway and apron are also lit. The airport has VOR/DME equipment. It was equipped with an NDB, but this was recently removed.

New Plymouth Aero Club and its Air New Plymouth charter service was based at the airport,until it ceased operations in 2014. Previously it carried out charter work and air ambulance services as well as providing a well recognised flight training facility.

General aviation aircraft are located at the airport as well as heritage De Havilland Vampire, an L-39 Albatross, four Yak 52s and a Catalina Flying Boat.

Airport terminal upgrades[edit]

A proposal for a $29 million airport terminal upgrade at New Plymouth Airport has been given its final approval by the New Plymouth District Council.

The airport's terminal building opened in 1967 and was designed to handle just 60,000 passengers per year. In 2016, 411,661 people flew in and out of New Plymouth making it the 9th busiest airport in the country.[2] In an uncommon move, councillors - without any arguing - approved the most expensive option for the redevelopment, rejecting plans for a cheaper, more functional building.[10]

The new master plan proposes a major expansion of the terminal so it will have a floor area of 4092 square metres instead of the current 1430 square metres. The terminal design features separate arrival and departure gates, installing a larger mechanical baggage claim, a larger Air New Zealand lounge, more space for retail and the cafe, and the ability to create a passenger security area if required in the future. The master plan also proposes a two-stage runway extension to better cater for larger ATR aircraft which are now regularly using the airport. The current runway length limits their operation under certain conditions so the proposal is for an initial extension to 1500m and then potentially to 1700m.[11]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Air New Zealand Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington[12]
Jetstar Airways[13] Auckland[14]
Originair Napier (begins 28 September 2018),[15] Nelson[16]

Previous Airlines[edit]

Origin Pacific Airways used to operate Jetstream J31, Metroliner and Jetstream 41 aircraft to/from Auckland and to/from Nelson 6x weekly. NAC used to operate from New Plymouth with a Fokker F27 service. Regional airline Sunair used to fly to New Plymouth from Hamilton.


(This list is approximate and may be incomplete)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "New Plymouth Airport". New Plymouth District Council. 
  2. ^ a b c "Record Number of Passengers at New Plymouth Airport". NPDC. 20 January 2017. 
  3. ^ "New Plymouth Airport upgrade given the go ahead". Stuff. Retrieved 2017-06-08. 
  4. ^ "ORIGINAIR TO FLY BETWEEN NELSON AND NEW PLYMOUTH – Originair". Retrieved 2017-08-06. 
  5. ^ "Airport numbers up, carpark full". Stuff. Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  6. ^ "Jetstar to bring low fares to regional New Zealand". Jetstar. Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  7. ^ "New Plymouth Airport wins best regional". The New Zealand Herald. NZPA. 19 October 2009. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  8. ^ "Temporary Jetstar terminal moved into place at New Plymouth Airport". Stuff. Retrieved 2017-06-08. 
  9. ^ "Jetstar terminal in place". Stuff. Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  10. ^ Lee, Hannah (27 September 2016). "$22m design for New Plymouth airport is councillors' 'plane' favourite". Taranaki Daily News. 
  11. ^ Beca (December 2014), New Plymouth Airport - Master Plan 2014 (PDF), New Plymouth District Council 
  12. ^ Air NZ online timetable
  13. ^ "Jetstar Group Fleet". Jetstar. Retrieved 15 February 2016. 
  14. ^ Gray, Jamie (31 August 2015). "Jetstar's new routes: Nelson, Napier, New Plymouth and Palmerston North make the cut". NZ Herald. 
  15. ^ "Airline to launch direct flights between Napier, New Plymouth and Palmerston North". 3 August 2018. Retrieved 3 August 2018. 
  16. ^ "OriginAir to fly between Nelson and New Plymouth". Originair. 26 July 2017. 

External links[edit]