Auckland Airport will separate its international terminal into two zones in preparation of a “safe air corridor” being formed between New Zealand and the Cook Islands.
Auckland Airport CEO Adrian Littlewood said the airport was building new internal walls at its international terminal so it could be split into two self-contained processing zones, which would operate shortly after a travel ‘bubble’ was announced.
“By reconfiguring our terminal into two separate zones, we are creating a safe way for people to travel to and from countries that we have formed a travel bubble with, as well as being able to safely process New Zealanders arriving from other countries,” Littlewood said in a statement.
When operational, for safe travel bubble passengers arriving and departing from what will be known as International Terminal Zone A, Auckland Airport said it will be a similar experience to how people travelled through the terminal before COVID-19.
The usual departure and security formalities will be in place followed by a retail and food and beverage area, with flights departing from International Pier A. Access to International Pier B will be completely closed off to these travellers.
“It will also mean we use buses and remote stands more frequently to ensure the careful separation and processing of passengers departing and arriving from different parts of the world,” Littlewood said.
“Making these major operational changes is only possible with the commitment and support of all our partners across the airport system.
“We have worked hard to protect New Zealand against the virus, and this close collaboration will continue as we work to enable future safe travel bubbles.”
Littlewood said the airport was now working through the final stages of planning with border agencies and airlines to make the separation possible.
The news comes after Cook Islands Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown said his government had been in discussions with New Zealand authorities to progress an air bridge between the two countries.
It is not yet clear when such an air bridge will open, but local Kiwi media have speculated such a plan could be announced before New Zealand’s 19 September election.
Meanwhile, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the future of the trans-Tasman travel ‘bubble’ between Australia and New Zealand would remain on the back burner due to a significant spike in coronavirus community transmission in Victoria.
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