|Wellington International Airport|
|Owner:||Infratil, Wellington City Council|
|Operator:||Wellington International Airport Ltd|
|City-Served:||Wellington, New Zealand|
|Location:||Wellington, New Zealand|
It is a major domestic hub, and has links to the major cities of Australia. In 2005 it served 4.6 million passengers, and currently over 5 million passengers. The airport in recent months has experienced phenomenal growth rates (around 22%). As at the year to date (YTD) May 2008, 5,177,634 passengers passed through the airport, an increase of over 500,000 from the same time in the previous year.
The airport occupies 110 hectares, a small area for the number of passengers it handles.
Rongotai Airport started with a grass runway back in November 1929. The airport opened in 1935, but had later been closed down due to safety reasons on 27 September 1947 (grass surface often became unusable during winter months). During the closure, Paraparaumu Airport - 35 miles North from Wellington, picked up the slack, and became the country's busiest airport in 1949.
Proposal to relocate the terminal from the east side over to the site of the Miramar Golf Course was put forward in 1956. Houses were moved to make way for the construction of the new Wellington Airport in 1958.  The current site was officially reopened on 25 October 1959, after lobbying by the local Chamber of Commerce for a location that was much closer to the city centre. Paraparaumu Airport on the Kapiti Coast was deemed unsuitable for large planes due to adverse terrain. The original length of the runway was 1630 m (5350 ft), and was extended to its current length of 1936 m in the early 1970s, to handle DC-8s.
Wellington Airport's original domestic terminal was built as a temporary measure inside a corrugated iron hangar, originally used to assemble de Havilland aircraft, and was not replaced for many decades. It was known for being overcrowded, leaky and draughty. This building remained visible from the SoundsAir Terminal from which a covered walkway used to link the old Terminal to the new one, but has since been removed. An upgrade of the domestic terminal, budgeted at NZ$10 million, was announced in 1981, but by 1983 the plans were shelved after cost projections more than doubled. The terminal was extensively refurbished in 1986 by Air New Zealand, and Ansett New Zealand built a new terminal as an extension to the international terminal when it commenced competing domestic air services in 1986.
In 1991, the airport released plans to widen the taxiway to CAA Code D & E specifications  and acquire extra space, which were abandoned after protests from local residents. The plan involved the removal of the nearby Miramar Golf Course and a large number of residential and commercial properties. The Airport purchased land from the Miramar Golf Course in 1994 for car park space.
As recently as 1992, several alternate sites for Wellington Airport were considered - Te Horo, Paraparaumu, Mana Island, Ohariu Valley, Horokiwi, Wairarapa and Pencarrow, but a decision was made to upgrade the existing site at Rongotai. A major new terminal was completed in 1999 and integrated with the international terminal, which had been built as an abortive first stage of a whole new terminal in 1977, and a 90 m safety zone at the south end of the runway has been constructed in order to comply with ICAO safety regulations. A similar zone is currently under construction at the runway's north end.
In April 2006, Air New Zealand and Qantas announced that they proposed to enter into a codeshare agreement, arguing that it would be necessary in order to reduce empty seats and financial losses on trans-Tasman routes. The airport counter-argued that the codeshare would stifle competition and passenger growth on Wellington's international flights, pointing to what it saw as a market duopoly dominated by Air New Zealand and Qantas. The codeshare was abandoned by the two airlines after it was rejected in a draft ruling by the ACCC in November 2006.
The shortness of the runway has limited the size of aircraft that can use the airport, and possible overseas destinations are limited to a small number of destinations in Australasia and the Pacific. This has led to a de facto duopoly by Air New Zealand and Qantas on international flights out of Wellington.
A full-length runway extension, to accommodate long-haul aircraft such as the Boeing 747, has been investigated,     but would require highly expensive land reclamation into Lyall Bay, and massive breakwater protection from Cook Strait. Doubts exist over the viability of such an undertaking, particularly as Air New Zealand has shown no interest in providing international service beyond Australia and the Pacific Islands, and no international airlines have shown serious interest in providing services beyond those points.
Despite the runway limitations, Qantas operated the 747SP on regular flights between Wellington and Australia during the first half of the 1980s. Air New Zealand operated DC-8s from Wellington on trans-Tasman routes, but when the planes were retired in 1981, none of its other planes were capable of operating international flights from Wellington. Air New Zealand's DC-10s required extra runway length, and twin-jet planes were not yet ETOPS certified for trans-Tasman flights. The 747SP addressed this gap in the Wellington market until 1985, when Air New Zealand and Qantas took delivery of their Boeing 767 fleets. 
The international terminal - partially built by the now-defunct Ansett New Zealand in 1986 - has been upgraded in various stages since 2005. On February 19, 2008, Wellington Airport announced the proposed design for its new, expanded international terminal. http://wellingtonairport.co.nz/html/business/popup/TheRock.html The design, nicknamed "The Rock" and penned by Studio Pacific Architecture and Warren & Mahoney, was a deliberate departure from traditional airport terminal design, and has aroused a great deal of controversy. 
The upgrade of the international terminal is intended to double the existing capacity from 500 passengers per hour to 1000, and is also being done in anticipation of the entry into service of the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350. These aircraft could potentially fly long-haul from Wellington's short runway, opening up the possibility of direct air links to Asia and the Americas if commercially viable. Regional business organisations and the airport have put forward their case to various international airlines for long-haul operations to and from Wellington.  There have also been plans for expanding retail operations, as well as building a hotel above the carpark. In particular, a survey commissioned by the Wellington Chamber of Commerce found that respondents regarded the airport's limited international capacity as the biggest obstacle to the Wellington region's economic potential, by a long margin over other factors.
Air New Zealand has repeatedly indicated that it has no interest in pursuing long-haul passenger operations from Wellington. It has questioned potential demand for such flights, citing the axing of its Christchurch-Los Angeles route in early 2006. Wellington business leaders point out that Christchurch's economy is mainly industrial and agricultural, while arguing that Wellington's economy is based mainly on what they see as the higher-value public service, financial, ICT, and creative sectors. It has also been pointed out that while Air New Zealand has been scaling back certain routes, it is adding others, most notably Auckland-Shanghai from 6 November 2006, and extending its Auckland-Hong Kong service to London Heathrow.
Wellington Airport's main ground transportation system is by means of road.
The airport lies at the southern end of the North Island section of State Highway 1, which connects the airport to Wellington City via the Mount Victoria Tunnel. SH 1 then continues to the Wellington Urban Motorway, which takes traffic out of the city and further afield to Porirua and the Hutt Valley, and on to the Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa. The distance from the airport to the city centre is roughly 8 km (5 miles), and will typically cost NZ$20-25 for a taxi to the city centre.
Two Metlink bus routes service the airport. The major route is the aptly named Route 91 "Airport Flyer", which connects the terminal with central Wellington and the Wellington Railway Station, then continuing further to Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt. The second is Route 11 (Seatoun), which stops within a five-minute walking distance of the terminal. Connections to Porirua, Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa requires changing to a Metlink-Tranz Metro train at Wellington Railway Station.
Public transport to the Airport is limited to buses as the Airport is quite distant from the Wellington Railway Station, making it difficult to link Wellington Airport to the CBD via a Rail Link. Feasibility studies, such as Transit NZ's Ngauranga to Airport Study, have been carried out to address this gap in the network, with light rail being touted as a popular solution by public transport advocates.
In spite of the short runway and frequent winds, there have been very few safety incidents at the airport. However at the air show held at the airport on opening day in 1959 there were at least two incidents; A Royal New Zealand Air Force Sunderland flying boat scraped its keel along the runway during a low pass in turbulent conditions and a Royal Air Force Avro Vulcan bomber aborted its landing when it touched down short of the runway damaging its undercarriage and a wing. The aircraft then flew to Ohakea air base where it was stranded for several weeks awaiting repairs.
In 1991, a United Airlines Boeing 747 made an unscheduled landing after its original destination, Christchurch Airport, was closed by fog.   Although the plane landed safely, all passengers and freight had to be offloaded before it was able to take off again. The plane was originally diverted from Auckland to Christchurch, due to fog at Auckland. Whilst passing Wellington, Christchurch was also blanketed by fog. Low on fuel, the flight was diverted to Wellington.
On 21 November 2007, a Cessna 172 owned by Wings over Whales departing to Kaikoura on a whale watching trip, flipped onto its roof as it was taxiing onto the runway in strong northerly winds. Two people were on board and escaped with only minor injuries. The airport was closed for approximately 2 hours.
On 17 June 2008, a Pacific Blue 737-800 was moved sideways away from an airbridge after a strong gust of wind caught the tail section. Although passengers were disembarking at the time and ground crew were working under the aircraft, no-one was injured. 
|Air New Zealand||Auckland, Brisbane, Christchurch, Dunedin, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney, Nadi [seasonal]|
|Air New Zealand operated by Air Nelson||Nelson, New Plymouth, Tauranga, Hamilton, Napier, Rotorua, Westport, Invercargill|
|Air New Zealand operated by Eagle Airways||Whangarei, Whakatane, Gisborne, Taupo, Wanganui, Palmerston North, Nelson, Blenheim, Westport, Timaru|
|Air New Zealand operated by Mount Cook Airline||Hamilton, Christchurch, Queenstown, Dunedin|
|Air Chathams||Chatham Islands - Tuuta|
|Capital Air||Takaka [seasonal]|
|Virgin Blue operated by Pacific Blue||Auckland, Brisbane, Christchurch|
|Qantas operated by JetConnect||Auckland [ends June 9], Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney|
|Sounds Air||Kaikoura, Picton, Blenheim, Nelson|
|Jetstar||Auckland [starts June 10],|