A $2 MILLION airport makeover and direct flights to Auckland could signal Invercargill truly taking off as an air destination.
Work ramped up in the past week for a series of renovations to the Invercargill Airport to coincide with direct jet flights between it and Auckland, which start on August 25.
Large meeting rooms inside would be connected and transformed into a secure lounge area.
It would have large windows looking over the apron as well as glass walls and doors facing the terminal.
General manager Nigel Finnerty said this would allow passengers to feel connected to main areas of the building.
“There will be cafe facilities, televisions, toilets and seating available in the lounge.”
The new flights would mean aviation security would be needed at the airport, which it does not now have.
Work had started on the new baggage screening area which would host aviation security and be used for the jet flights.
“When the jet service starts passengers and baggage will need to be screened just like the screening you go through in Christchurch when you fly to Auckland.”
The airport is also constructing a new baggage screening building near the current check-ins and passenger screening.
It would also require an aircraft hardstand to park the large planes on.
Overall the project would cost “up to $2 million”, he said.
The project would be completed before the first jet arrived on August 25.
The work would lay the way for a trial of direct flights between Invercargill and Auckland through Air New Zealand.
There would be five flights both in and out of the city weekly.
The trial was set for a year, however the airport was confident Southland would support the service and “make it a success”, Mr Finnerty said.
“We will be only one stop from the rest of the world. I believe that Southlanders have already seen the potential benefits of the service and it will only grow from here.”
The airport would construct more permanent infrastructure if direct flights continued.
The flights would support local businesses by connecting them more easily to “not only the biggest city in New Zealand, but also the biggest destination and marketplace in the country”, Mr Finnerty said.
“Distance and time to markets can be an issue for Southland businesses. This flight will support local industry and business growth by reducing the time it takes to get our exports to market.”