07 July 2021

Chatham Islands Airport Longer & Stronger Project


The Government has advised that funding has been approved to proceed with the construction phase of Chatham Islands Airport’s (CIAL) project to Lengthen and Strengthen the runway. This funding is in addition to the funding previously approved to complete an Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) and design process. The Contractor selected to undertake the construction works to Lengthen and Strengthen the CIAL runway is Downer New Zealand Limited with BECA Limited undertaking contract management for CIAL. The Construction project is due commence in late August 2021 with completion of the runway components being anticipated in July 2022. In addition to the lengthening and strengthening of the runway and the expansion and strengthening of the apron there are a number ancillary works included to ensure the airport is in a position to accommodate and manage jet aircraft. This project sits within a suite of projects identified through the Chatham Islands Investment Strategy which is a whole of Islands and all of government strategy to support sustainable growth on the Chatham Islands. The airport extension has been identified as critical and is the flagship Chatham Island’s infrastructure project which stands to facilitate the expansion of the island’s economy and increase the community’s social wellbeing. It is anticipated that representatives of CIAL, Downer and BECA will be visiting the island within the next month to provide further detail of the project programme and answer questions the community may have. 


The funding will be used to design and build the runway extension and the required ancillary services that will allow Code 4C aircraft (Boeing 737/Airbus A 320 Class) to operate on the Chatham Islands. Enabling Code 4C aircraft will future proof the airport for the next 50 years and will: 

  • allow for the continuation of commercial air services to the Chatham Islands • enable increased capacity, reliability and cost improvements 
  • improve operating economics, which may encourage new air service operators and open up options for export and other business activity on the Chatham Islands. The scope of work to allow Code 4C aircraft includes the following: Runway 
  • extend the runway at the west end from 1,360 metres to 1,850 metres in length. 
  • provide Strip End and Runway and Safety Areas of 60 metres and 240 metres at each end of the runway. 
  • strengthen the existing runway pavement to facilitate Code 4C aircraft, with 30 departures per month. 
  • provide a taxiway with sufficient width and strength to accommodate Code 4C aircraft. 
  • extend and strengthen the existing apron sufficiently to accommodate two Code 4C aircraft and two Code B aircraft. 
  • provide storm-water drainage. 
  • source and supply all material including local or imported aggregate required for the works. 
  • relocate the existing lighting system, runway end identifier lights and precision approach path indicators. 
  • Provide runway edge lights along the extended length of runway to match existing. Relocate the windsocks at the 05 end of the runway. 
Ancillary services: For the airport to support Code 4C aircraft other ancillary services will need to be in place to meet regulatory requirements. These include: 

  • airfield navigation aids upgrades. 
  • building upgrading. 
  • electrical, communications, water and wastewater services. 
  • airfield rescue fire service facilities (if required). 
  • perimeter security upgrade. 
  • facility security to meet CAA requirements
Source : Chatham Islands Airport Ltd Press Release


  1. With those Upgrades Air Chathams could replace its Conviar 580 Airplanes for a New Fleet of Boeing 737COMBI airplanes and have the new airplanes fly from the Chatham Islands from Auckland, Wellington and Tauranga.
    Christchurch would be served by an ATR 72-500 Airplane.

    1. Why would CHC only get an AT72-500? CHC with widebodies flying up to Asia makes more sense to fly the seafood to there to then fly to the Asian markets. Why would you fly a 737 to Tauranga? What cargo would be flying in and out of there?

  2. Tauranga? Why?

    Air Chathams have already been very vocal on their desire for 737 operations. The Convair 580 will be history for Air Chats in a few months.

    1. Agreed, with Air Chathams already buying the old AirNZ B737 simulator a couple of years ago and having it moved and working in Hangar 4 (Fieldair hangar). It's just when, not if for a B737.

  3. I wonder the NAVAID upgrades are

  4. They may just use an Airwork 737 might be a cheaper option.

    1. For Cargo yes, but they would need a combi 737 also

    2. If Airwork were to purchase a Combi model then Air Chats may start a dry lease arrangement, could happen but also could very likely not

  5. Could someone please clarify what they mean by saying, "strengthen the existing runway pavement to facilitate Code 4C aircraft with 30 departures per months" Hypothetically does this mean that if Air Chathams were operating a daily jet service then the Air force wouldn't be able to have exercises using poisedens

    1. Highly doubt Air Chats would operate a daily jet service, rather more following the current schedule eg no flights Sundays ect.. I would say the above is more of a guideline and more in line with scheduled operations only.

    2. 30 flights per month is simply a guideline to the level of pavement strength/resilience required. It does not indicate what schedule Air Chathams or any other operator might decide to adopt. Freight is the backbone of the Chathams service, although currently passenger numbers are up. Demand for both inbound and (especially) outbound freight (live and chilled fish) varies greatly through the seasons. Now that the airfield construction is confirmed, some schedule planning will be possible for Air Chathams.