Home' Asian Aviation : AAV September 2011 Contents 38 AsianAviation | SEPTEMBER 2011
Christchurch Airport is the biggest on New Zealand’s South Island, and is investing heavily in developing into a regional
hub. Pat Brennan spoke with airport CEO Jim Boult on the sidelines of July’s Aviation Outlook Summit in Sydney.
Q: Can you provide a picture of the
airport and its customers?
JB: Christchurch is the leading airport in the South
Island of New Zealand. We cater for eight airlines,
two of which are domestic carriers that also operate
internationally, as well as six international airlines. The
airport primarily caters for the leisure market, which
represents 85 percent of visitors. We are also the premier
destination for the South Island with 90 percent of
international visitors arriving into Christchurch. We
have two runways and can handle all aircraft types up to
Q: Is the airport a state owned entity
or privately held and what are your
JB: The airport is a private company and has t wo
shareholders. The City of Christchurch has a 75
percent holding , with the New Zealand government
holding the residual 25 percent. We employ 230
direct employees, although the airport campus has a
total workforce of 5,500 which makes the airport the
largest employment centre in the South island. Our
position as the gateway to the South Island means we
play a significant role in the NZ$4.6 billion (US$3.92
billion) South Island tourist industr y.
Q: How have passenger numbers
developed in recent times and what
was the impact of the first series of
earthquakes in September of last year?
JB:[In] the year ending June 2010 we had an exceptional
year and had seen record passenger numbers and
profitability. Our passengers exceeded 6 million,
comprising 4.5 million domestic and 1.5 million
international, and while the September earthquake did
have an impact, we saw it as a bump in the road and by
November saw a recovery and were confident that we
were back to where we had expe cted to be. However,
February’s earthquake really did knock us about and we
saw a 23 percent reduction in our international traffic
numbers for March 2011, compared to the previous year.
And of course we have experienced further earthquakes
in June, which, along with the volcanic cloud disruptions,
have f urther compromised the road to recovery.
Q: How did the airport cope when
the 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck
on 4 September and what lessons
were learnt as a result?
JB: Surprisingly, the airport was closed for only nine
hours. The first and most obvious effects were the loss
of power, phones and Internet. While the airport did
not experience major structural damage, the shakes
were sufficient to render our Emergency Operational
Centre (EOC) unusable. A temporar y EOC was
quickly established in the airport Fire Station. This
experience was a sober reminder to ensure adequate
levels of redundancy in vital infrastructure. Other
lessons learnt were the ne ed to have a process to
c onstantly update key contacts and to ensure a
comprehensive le vel of emergency training – and
always expect the unexpected.
Right now, we have 75 percent of city hotel rooms out
of action. We have also lost most of our convention
facilities and our main sporting venue. All of these
factors are limiting the city’s ability to host major
e vents and accommodate the leisure and business
market. This will obviously have a flow-on effect [on]
the travel industry and us.
Q: Looking forward, what is the
strategic view on how to build and
promote the airport?
JB: We are investing heavily in turning the airport
into a hub rather than simply a destination airport.
We recognize the importance of retaining all of our
international airline customers and are working with
all of our operators to ensure we are seen as a viable
and attractive hub. Looking for ward, I can see that a s
Christchurch is re-built into a modern city, there will
be opportunities to market both Christchurch and
the South Island as being premier tourist destinations,
ser ved by a well-connected hub airport.
Q: Christchurch Airport has a long
history of embracing green projects.
Can you tell us about some of the
projects you are engaged in?
JB: The airport has had a green initiatives program
for over 10 years now. Christchurch Airport was the
first airport in the southern hemisphere to qualify
as carbon-neutral, which occurred in 2008. We
produce all of our potable water on the airfield from
an artesian bore. We also use a groundwater sourc e
to both heat and cool the airport building. We also
have a stunning project that utilises sensors to cycle
lights through the terminals and which provides
a NZ$400,000 saving along with lower energ y
consumption. Another area where we are active is
pursuing a policy of restricting the use of aircraft-
installed auxiliary power units while an aircraft is
sat at a g ate. This is being introduced over the next
Christchurch Airport CEO Jim Boult
“ We recognize the importance of retaining all of our international airline
customers and are working with all of our operators to ensure we are
seen as a viable and attractive hub.” – Christchurch Airport CEO Jim Boult
2/09/11 5:57 PM
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