1/29/1966: The Official Opening of Auckland Airport

1/29/1966: The Official Opening of Auckland Airport

DALLAS — Today in aviation, Auckland Airport (AKL), New Zealand’s largest and busiest airport, opened its doors in 1966. AKL is also the third busiest international facility in Australasia.

The 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 could walk around the tarmac and view the airliners that arrived for the occasion.

Auckland Airport’s international terminal took shape in 1970. Photo: Auckland Airport.


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 city’s main civilian airport was at 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 honor was given to an Air New Zealand Douglas DC-8, which departed for Sydney.

Crowds cheer as the first Boeing 747 jumbo jet arrives at Auckland Airport in 1972. Photo: Auckland Airport.


The current domestic terminal was initially used for both domestic and international flights. This changed in 1977 when a new international terminal was opened and named after Jean Batten, the famous New Zealand aviator.

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: Aerial photograph of Auckland Airport under construction in 1966. Photo: Auckland Airport

European Deputy Editor
Writer, aviation fanatic, and Airways European Deputy Editor, Lee is a plant geek and part-time Flight Attendant for a UK-based airline. Based in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

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