Today in Aviation, Auckland Airport (AKL), the largest and busiest airport in New Zealand, opened its doors in 1966. AKL is also the third busiest international facility in Australasia.
Governor-General, Sir Bernard Fergusson opened the facility and to celebrate, a ‘Grand Air Pageant’ was held over three days. Over 200,000 people attended the event. Visitors were able to walk around the tarmac and view the array of airliners that arrived for the occasion.
Aviation on the site can be traced back to 1928, when the Auckland Aero Club used the airfield known as Mãngere Aerodrome for its activities. Work began to transform the area into Auckland’s primary airport in 1960.
Previously, the cities main civilian airport was located at the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Base Auckland at Whenuapai. However, the site was in a poor location, limiting the aircraft that could use the facility.
The first departure from the airport took place in November 1965. The honour was given to an Air New Zealand Douglas Dc-8, which departed for Sydney.
The current domestic terminal was initially used for both domestic and international flights. This changed in 1977 when a new international terminal, named after Jean Batten, the famous New Zealand aviator, was opened.
Further expansion took place during the 1990s. The redevelopment cost $180 million and almost doubled the airport’s size.
Plans put forward in 2014 looked at AKL’s future for the next 30 years. It would see the international and domestic terminals combined into a single building based around the international terminal. A new northern runway will also be constructed. This, it is hoped, will make AKL ‘an aviation hub for New Zealand and the Pacific Rim.’
Featured image: A busy apron at AKL in 2007. (Photo: Follash, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)