Christchurch International Airport
Travelers moving to or from Christchurch, New Zealand, often use the city’s international airport. Christchurch International Airport, operating under the CHC airport code, provides services for domestic and international flights to and from the community. The aiport is the largest on the south island of New Zealand and serves as an entry point for visitors to the island.
The airport is situated in the Harewood suburb of Christchurch and was previously known as Harewood Airport. Air operations began in the area in 1940. The airport began international operations a decade later. Numerous expansions to terminals, ground facilities, and runways have occurred since.
Christchurch International Airport continues to serve as a general-purpose airport. The Royal New Zealand Air Force previously maintained a fighter wing at the airport but currently has no aircraft based there. The airport also serves as an operational base for general aviation including charter services, medical evacuation services, and recreational flying. Much of the recreational air traffic utilizes a grass runway parallel to the main commercial runways.
The airport also serves another international purpose. The international base on the Antarctic continent is often resupplied from flights based at Christchurch International Airport. This multinational effort operates from a specialized apron or aircraft parking area known as the Antarctic Apron.
Christchurch International Airport operates two terminals labeled Domestic and International. Between the two facilities, the airport operates 18 gates with a stated annual capacity of about 6 million people. Travelers should allow at least one and a half hours to make connections involving an international flight. Travelers changing between domestic flights in New Zealand often can make connections in about half an hour.
Future plans include replacing the domestic terminal with a new building. This new terminal includes additional lounges and retail space as well as better security areas. Additional plans include an upgrade to the international arrivals area incorporating what developers are referring to as the “New Zealand Experience” in the décor. When the expansions are completed, the current domestic terminal is slated for demolition.
Christchurch Airport Amenities
The airport handles about 120,000 takeoffs and landings each year. The most commonly used runway is about 3,300 meters or 10,800 feet long. It is equipped with the standard lights and an instrument landing system. The alternate landing strip is not equipped with lights and about half the length of the primary strip. The primary runway has the capacity to handle a Boeing 747 sized aircraft while the crosswind runway is limited to Boeing 767 aircraft or smaller. Future plans include additional taxiways to make aircraft ground movements more efficient.
The cargo terminal at the Christchurch International Airport includes space for up to 25 aircraft and can handle the Boeing 747. Ground facilities include refrigerated and freezer storage as well as bonded and secure warehousing.
Parking facilities at the airport accommodate about 1,000 cars between short-term and long-term areas. Planned upgrades to this area include a parking building offering sheltered parking spaces and convenient entrance to the terminal buildings.
Christchurch International Airport operates 24-hours per day but customs services operate only from 8:30 a.m. to midnight limiting potential flight times for international arrivals. The airport has no flight or noise restrictions.