Christchurch Airport open for domestic, international and relief flights after earthquake

By John Walton, February 24 2011
Christchurch Airport open for domestic, international and relief flights after earthquake

Update: latest update at 1221 Thursday NZ time

Christchurch Airport is receiving extra flights as earthquake assistance is delivered from around the world, though delays are widespread across the NZ air network. 

A statement on the Christchurch Airport website says: "Passengers are urged to check their flight details with their airline before proceeding to CHC Airport." The airport's departures boards are showing scattered delays of up to an hour for many domestic flights.

New Zealand authorities are recommending that non-emergency travel to Christchurch be delayed, though business travel to the rest of New Zealand is not directly affected.

The NZ Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management's latest statement reads: "Visitors are being flown to Wellington by the Royal New Zealand Air Force. Any visitors to Christchurch who want to leave the city should make their way to collection points at the Burnside High School welfare centre, corner of Memorial Avenue and Greers Road or the welfare centre at North Hagley Park. Please note, do not go to the airport directly if you wish to be on these flights. Please go only to the collection points."

Delays in Auckland and Wellington

In Wellington, where many international visitors have been evacuated, the airport is showing numerous domestic arrival and departure delays, though the airport's international flights (which operate to Australia) are running as normal. The Royal New Zealand Air Force operated numerous evacuation and resupply flights on its Boeing 757 transport aircraft from Christchurch to Wellington.

Auckland Airport has widespread domestic arrival and departure delays, with some cancellations to North Island destinations.

Extra seats, special fares on Air New Zealand 

Air New Zealand has further extended its emergency $50 fares between Christchurch and any other NZ airport through Sunday night.

The airline added over 2000 seats -- including several roundtrips on Boeing 747 and 777 aircraft -- to and from Christchurch yesterday, and will do so again today. Flights elsewhere in New Zealand have been cancelled to free up aircraft to fly to and from Christchurch.

Appearing on TVNZ news, Air New Zealand CEO Rob Fyfe recommended that passengers looking to travel to or from Christchurch book via the airline's call centre: 0800 737 000 from within NZ or, from abroad, +64 9 357 3000.

Other airlines

Most airlines are planning to run normal schedules to and from Christchurch from Thursday to assist in the relief effort, but widespread delays and congestion are expected as emergency workers stream in from across the Asia-Pacific region and around the world.

Christchurch Airport is offering free parking and unlimited free Wi-Fi Internet access until further notice.  

Singapore Airlines is running extra flights to pick up passengers stranded since Tuesday, all of which include a technical stop in Auckland and/or Sydney. The airline has released detailed information and advice for passengers. Of particular note in Singapore's advice:

  • Passengers in Christchurch must be in possession of valid travel documents before proceeding to the airport 
  • Plan additional journey time to the airport as a result of heavy traffic and limited public transport 
  • Expect congestion at airport check-in
  • Passengers should contact their respective embassies for assistance in obtaining any necessary replacement travel documentation.

Official advice for finding missing people

Australians, New Zealanders overseas or anyone abroad concerned about friends and family can contract the new Red Cross person enquiry line. From outside New Zealand the number is: +64 7 850 2199.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade also has a hotline for people concerned about Australians in the Christchurch and Canterbury regions: freephone 1300 555 135 from within Australia, or +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas.

Further updates

Read more comprehensive coverage of the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake, plus authoritative advice for travellers in the area and overseas.

Further updates will be posted at and on our @AusBT Twitter stream.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

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