This editor knows this airport well, it being his home town. He soloed at 16 years old from this airport. After being caught in the Christchurch earthquake and having to wait 5 days before he could depart he experienced the advanced earthquake engineering as an after shake hit whilst waiting in the departure area. The whole floor moved in a gentle floating effect. He also experienced the airports downturn when in March 2022 he was on the first flight allowed from Australia to Christchurch.
The airport started as a grass airstrip and was expanded during WW2 as a training strip for pilots. Then in the early 1950’s it was developed into a more modern airport. Over the years refurbishment has maintained pace with the changes in aviation and technology.
Now it is leading the world in its approach to a sustainable flying future.
Richard Needham, from Travel Media neatly sum up the current situation.
Christchurch Airport, the most significant centre of employment and logistics in New Zealand’s South Island, employing over 7000 people, is a prime example of New Zealand’s importance on sustainability.
Since Covid ravaged the tourism industry and cut flights to the bone, Christchurch Airport has rebounded, achieving a 90% domestic recovery and an 80% global recovery, the airport’s general manager of tourism and trade, Scott Callaway, told TRENZ in ōtautahi Christchurch.
Almost one in four (24%) of visitors at Queenstown arrives at Christchurch, where the airport operates a 100% electric commercial vehicle fleet.
The airport is home to the international Antarctic program and host to 11 commercial airlines, flying 11,000 international and 62,000 domestic flights a year.
Callaway said that while Auckland Airport was New Zealand’s biggest, it was vital for the country to have two major international gateways.
Christchurch Airport’s key achievements, he said, included ground-source heat pumps. The airport has replaced its diesel boilers with a world-first artesian heating system that uses pure aquifer water to help heat and cool the terminal “and returns every drop to the aquifer unharmed”.
To regenerate biodiversity, the airport has established a dryland habitat on site, protecting endemic species that it seeks to regenerate.
“We are constantly looking to improve circularity by keeping products out of landfill. Solutions include PlastiPhalt (asphalt made from oil containers), furniture repurposing, recycling e-waste, and improving our organics-to-compost stream,” Callaway said.
“Aviation is a hotbed of inspiring innovation, with the race on to decarbonise. Having installed New Zealand’s first electric plane charger, we are 100% committed to assisting airlines trial new technologies and are ready for the transition, whether that be to electric or to hydrogen aircraft.”
The airport operates Kōwhai Park, which includes a 220-hectare solar array (as big as 226 rugby fields), generating 150 megawatts of solar energy to power 30,000 homes. The park protects 1.25 million native trees and shrubs.
Christchurch Airport’s chief executive Malcolm Johns says the airport is “officially climate positive”.
“We won’t stop there,” Johns added. “Our goal is to do things that enable the rest of New Zealand’s economy to decarbonise at the fastest possible rate.”
Former New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern, addressing Australian politicians and media last year, said: “If you have any serious intention to become a sustainable business, you need to go and visit Christchurch Airport. What they have achieved is nothing short of inspirational. They are the best in the world at this stuff.”