31 January 2021

Growing the Chatham Islands Air Service


While Air Chathams has yet to resume its full airline schedule air services to Whakatane, Whanganui and Kapiti Coast the service to the Chathams has grown. One presumes that the lack of international passengers transhipping to and from Air Chathams' services is a key element to this. Meanwhile the Chatham Islands have become a hot international domestic destination and provided a boon for Air Chathams as it beds its larger ATR 72 aircraft on to the Chathams run.

A Radio New Zealand piece (https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/435473/chatham-islands-bucks-trend-with-strong-tourism-growth) reports that In a newsletter, Tourism Chatham Islands said a comparison of visitor numbers between 2019 and 2020 showed a 32 percent increase in arrivals. (I wonder whether that factored out lockdown?). The organisation said Hotel Chathams was nearly full to June, and they were not expecting the usual autumn and winter decline. Air Chathams confirmed there was already plenty of demand and forward bookings for 2021. This kind of growth would be essential in supporting larger aircraft to fly to the islands once the right infrastructure was in place, Air Chathams said.

Meanwhile the Chatham Islands Airport Limited has issued a press release on the "Longer and Stronger Project to extend the Inia William Tuuta Memorial Airport runway on the Chathams. 

The contract to construct the extension to the Chatham Islands Airport is being developed using the Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) model with the preferred contractor for that process now being identified. The procurement process was conducted in line with the New Zealand Government Procurement Rules and was run as a closed, two stage process — Registration of Interest (ROI) and Request for Proposal (RFP) The outcome of this process is that Downer New Zealand Ltd has been selected as the preferred contractor with them being offered the opportunity to proceed into the ECI phase. Over the next three weeks negotiations will be held between the Airport Contract Management Team and Downer representatives to finalise a contract for the ECI process. 

In addition to the selection process further geotechnical and survey work has been completed to identify suitable materials for construction and to refine quantities required. The ECI process will see the preferred contractor, BECA and the Airport Company work together to develop a design for the runway and apron extension and strengthening and finalising detail on such things as logistics, the use of local labour and contractors, community liaison for the project and refining detail on the sourcing and production of aggregates. At the completion of the ECI process the contractor will provide a firm price and subject to this being within the anticipated funding envelope and further ministerial approvals, a construction contract will be let. The aim is to commence the construction of the extended runway and strengthen the existing runway and apron in mid-2021 with completion envisaged in mid to late 2022. 

The project engineers, BECA Limited, are assisting the Airport Company with the project contractual processes, leading the design, and will be managing the project. 

The Inia William Tuuta Memorial Airport - Chatham Islands Airport 


A NZ Government "Shovel Ready" two stage project to construct a Lengthened and Strengthened airport for the Chatham Islands. 


  • Extending the runway at the western end (05 end) from the existing 1,360 metres to 1,850 metres (45 metres wide). 
  • Providing strip end (60 metres) and Runway End Safety Area (RESA; 240 metres) to both the 05 and 23 ends of the runway. 
  • Strengthening the existing runway pavement to facilitate Code 4C aircraft. 
  • Extending and strengthening the existing apron to accommodation 2 x Code 4C aircraft (Boeing 737/Airbus A 320 type aircraft) and 2 x Code B aircraft (Beechcraft Kingair turbo prop type aircraft). 
  • Strengthening the existing taxiway to accommodate Code 4C aircraft. 
  • Providing and improving stormwater drainage. 
  • Relocating the existing runway lighting system to the new additions. 
  • Providing runway edge lights along the extended length of the runway (to match existing). 


  • Airfield navigation aid (runway lighting) upgrade to facilitate remote monitoring.  Improvements to existing terminal building to include separation of departing and arriving passengers. 
  • Improved baggage claim facilities. 
  • Establishment of improved cargo handling facilities. 
  • Provision of electrical, communication, water and wastewater services associated with the buildings. 
  • Improvements to perimeter security fencing. 
  • Establishment of Rescue/Fire services (as required and dependant on Aircraft type). 


  1. Crystal ball gazing in 2022....
    Steve will be reviewing an Air Chats 737 flight.... One wonders if a A320 would be a goer being the predominant aircraft in the Oceania/Asian region Air NZ servicing etc....

  2. Post covid... if Air Chats got a A320 or a 737... Could they look to do the odd transtasman or spread their wings to the Pacific or even take over Air NZ Norfolk Brisbane Sydney service

    1. I Dont see them getting a A320 a 734/733 sounds more reasonable for Chats

    2. Definitely no Airbus for them, they're getting a 737-300 combi