Auckland Airport Pier B Hero

Auckland Airport Pier B: catering for both aviation’s newest giant and increasing traveller numbers

Auckland International Airport had undergone a series of internal alterations and small building extensions to incrementally increase the processing capacity of the terminal over several years. However, this strategy was becoming less sustainable in view of the continued increase in demand at Auckland Airport and the constraints imposed by the configuration of the existing terminal.

With 15.3 million travellers expected to use the international terminal by 2025 (compared to 6.5m in 2008), Auckland Airport recognised that a substantial reconfiguration and increase in overall area of the international terminal was required to ensure the facility would continue to operate efficiently and effectively into the future.

A new Pier B building would provide access to four new aircraft hard stands, two additional gate lounges and allow dual air bridge boarding of large aircraft.

Auckland International Airport Limited’s (AIAL) Aim:

  • To construct a new building to meet increasing traveller numbers to Auckland into the future and to accommodate aviation’s newest giant aircraft, the Airbus A380.

What we did:

We constructed the new Pier B building, which includes:

  • four new aircraft hard stands
  • two additional gate lounges
  • the ability for dual air bridge boarding of large aircraft, such as the A380
  • the ability to service two A380s at the same time.

Pier B was designed and built with a simple structural grid, allowing for expansion in all directions. Plant and equipment can be brought into the building when needed and, most importantly, additional gates can be added over time.

The building (including links to other parts of the main terminal building, covers roughly 5,500sqm and is 145m long and 18m wide.

Approximately 1425 m3 of concrete went into the pier.

The construction period for the building was set right at the beginning of the project despite much of the detail not being known. This is not unusual for airport projects due to the large number of diverse stakeholders, and it is something Hawkins has learnt to manage over the years.

Some design changes were made, such as pre-casting in-ground tie beams to speed construction. Final details of certain finishes and fittings were confirmed just 12 weeks from completion.

Early collaboration between the design team and Hawkins yielded cost savings at a time of surging world steel prices. Several kilometres of circular steel columns were indented in the correct lengths many months prior to the design drawings being finished, prior to steel price increases. Early collaboration with the steelwork fabricator also yielded savings in material handling and truck movements. This open team approach resulted in a streamlined fabrication and erection process. Despite the complex two-way moment frame system employed, of the approximately 380,000 bolts required not a single bolt or bolt hole required modification.

Pier B was a Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design (LEED) project. This is a green building accreditation system, which required new disciplines with regard to procurement and recording where materials were used within the building.

It also included rubbish recycling. We separated out plastic, steel, cardboard, Gib-board, paper, timber and crushing waste concrete and returned it as backfill during construction.

The pier features solar heating for public toilet hot water and rain water harvesting, with an estimated 4000m3 of recycled rainwater per year expected to be collected from the roof and piped to a tank farm for re-use.

It has highly filtrated air and carbon dioxide sensors and underwent a ‘flush-out’ period to reduce levels of dust, odours and chemical contaminants. The pier also has an increased level of metering and sensors to allow monitoring and regulation of energy usage over time.

Unique challenges:

  • The foundation work began before the design had been finalised, we worked collaboratively with the designers and client because of this in order to have the building completed by the proposed finish date.
  • The airport was a live environment, our team had to manage the passengers making sure they were not impacting on their experience during construction. Health & Safety was crucial on the project due to the location and nature of the construction zone, we had to make sure our team and the public, who were using the hall, were safe at all times.

The outcome:

Auckland Airport is the first New Zealand airport able to host the double-decker A380 aircraft. All travellers are benefiting from the additional capacity Pier B provides, as there are now fewer situations where travellers are bussed to and from an aircraft.

Auckland International Airport now has the ability to cater for growing traveller numbers well into the future. 

The new pier marks a significant milestone for New Zealand’s gateway, providing the capacity and environment to support New Zealand tourism, travel and trade, both now and well into the future. It will greatly improve service to travellers by giving us the ability to handle more aircraft at peak times and offering further world-class facilities in Auckland for the travelling public.

Simon Moutter

Former Auckland Airport chief executive officer