15 Dec 2016

No quick fix to Auckland Airport traffic woes - NZTA

8:39 pm on 15 December 2016

Any solution to paralysing traffic congestion at Auckland Airport will need to take the city's entire traffic network into account, says the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).

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Traffic access to Auckland Airport has become worse in the past few weeks, say travellers. Photo: AFP

Travellers have missed flights and complained it has been taking much longer than expected to reach the airport in the past two weeks, with major roadworks in the area believed to be contributing to the congestion.

With the peak travel season approaching, NZTA, Auckland Transport and Auckland Airport have set up a taskforce to try to tackle the problem, with the taskforce making immediate changes last night to roads in the area, in a bid to ease the flow.

But NZTA chief executive Fergus Gammie warned that the roads in and out of the airport did not work in isolation.

He said any response must look at the whole of the city, especially given South Auckland's growing business community.

Auckland Airport chief executive Adrian Littlewood said traffic light phasing has been changed to allow for smoother flows in the direction of the airport.

Roundabout and lane configurations were also altered overnight, and staff have been asked to change their travel routines to avoid peak times.

However, Mr Littlewood said traffic congestion was likely to remain a problem until well into next year.

NZTA said it was also looking to make changes to lanes on the two main routes to the airport.

The roadworks blamed for contributing to the problem would actually improve the situation long term, it said.

They included upgrading State Highway 20A and other roads to the airport, and adding new bus lanes.

But the new taskforce would not fix the huge delays, and the city's reputation was already being hurt by them, according to Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett.

He said the immediate changes were not serious solutions, and long-term fixes - such as widening the main roads to the airport - were needed.

"Last Thursday I left my Auckland office at about 4.30pm, and at 6.30pm I arrived at the airport. There are the stories that are coming from tourists, businesspeople, from New Zealanders that are trying to access New Zealand's most liveable city. Is it really?"

Jetstar has asked its domestic passengers to be at the airport up to 90 minutes before their flight, when it normally advising showing up 60 minutes beforehand.

A Jetstar spokesman said it supported the taskforce's moves and was pleased to see everyone working together.

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