Our airport over time
Christchurch Airport began life as an aerodrome at Harewood in 1936, an era when wooden biplanes were a common sight and a flight from Fiji to Brisbane took a full 20 hours!
By 1946 the terminal was starting to take shape, with hangars, a small terminal, the water tower and some barracks. The two runways and parallel taxiway concept was established in the early 1950s and in 1960 a new terminal building was in operation.
Since then, there has been continuous development of airport buildings, parking, roading and runway/taxiway/apron systems – and it’s a journey which continues to grow and unfold.
- 1935 Christchurch City Council chooses the present site at Harewood.
- 1936 227 hectares of land are purchased.
- 1937 A 915 metre grass runway and 60 square metre terminal are constructed.
- 1940 "Harewood Airport" opens for commercial flying.
- 1948 260 hectares of additional land is purchased.
- 1949 Two stabilised metalled, cross-directional runways along with parallel taxiways are constructed.
- 1950 Christchurch Airport becomes New Zealand’s first international airport.
- 1955 United States Antarctic Operations begin in Christchurch.
- 1960 A new 6,000 square metre terminal opens.
- 1962 The main runway is extended to 2,442 metres to enable commercial jet operations.
- 1965 Arrival of the first scheduled commercial jet flight.
- 1966 An international wing is added to the domestic terminal.
- 1975 Extensions to the domestic terminal are completed, extending the total floor space to 16,000 square metres.
- 1980 A new international arrivals hall is completed, providing an additional 2,800 square metres of floor space.
- 1984 The main runway is extended by 845 metres to 3,287 metres.
- 1987 The terminal is extended to accommodate Ansett New Zealand and Air New Zealand lounges and domestic airbridges.
- 1988 Christchurch International Airport Limited is established as a company, owned 75% by the Christchurch City Council and 25% by the New Zealand Government.
- 1989 The international arrival area is extended by 1,100 square metres and airbridges and associated facilities of 1,000 square metres are added.
- 1998 The new international terminal building is completed, creating an additional 28,000 square metres of floor space.
- 2001 The international terminal is expanded to create two new international gates.
- 2004 Further expansion adds five more international stands and four more international airbridges to the international terminal.
- 2007 The terminal development project begins.
- 2009 Construction begins on the new integrated terminal and the Airways air traffic control tower opens.
- 2013 The new integrated terminal building is officially opened.
- 2017 Christchurch Airport shares the Master Plan for future infrastructure – ‘Vision 2040’.
- 2018 Christchurch Airport is the only New Zealand airport selected by travellers as a winner of a World Airport Award.
- 2018 Christchurch Airport welcomes a record 6.8 million passengers through its terminal in a single year.
- 2020 Christchurch Airport announces purchase of 750ha of farmland to test its thinking a new airport could be built there to keep future generations of South Island residents and businesses connected to the rest of the world.
- 2020 Christchurch Airport awarded the highest carbon certification an airport can achieve, Level 4 Transformation of the Airports Council International “Airport Carbon Accreditation” programme.
- 2021 Kōwhai Park is announced - a new platform for generating renewable energy at scale to enable businesses to transition away from fossil fuels. Phase One to be a solar farm generating enough electricity to power 30,000 homes.
- 2022 Swedish electric airplane maker Heart Aerospace appoints Christchurch Airport to a new Industry Advisory Board to help fast-track the release of its first electric airplane, the ES-30.
- 2022 Christchurch Airport makes a public Pride Pledge, committing to all rainbow people having the freedom to be safe, included and visible in our place, and using our voice to actively support and celebrate rainbow communities.
- 2022 Christchurch and Hamburg Airports sign a partnership to work on infrastructure for the use of green hydrogen in aviation.
- 2022 Christchurch Airport joins the Sunflower Lanyard scheme, a programme for people who would like a little more assistance without having to ask for it.
- 2023 United Airlines announces a new Dreamliner 787 direct service to fly between Christchurch and San Francisco.
- 2023 Christchurch Airport signs up to buy the world’s first Rosenbauer Electric Fire Truck to operate at an airport.
- 2023 The New Zealand Hydrogen Aviation Consortium is launched at Christchurch Airport, bringing together six world leaders in sustainability to design a green hydrogen ecosystem for aviation.
An airman pushing an oil cart passes in front of de Havilland Tiger Moths. -RNZAF Museum
NAC Lodestars in front of the wooden terminal. -Geosmart Limited
Operation Deep Freeze II 1956-1957
Four USAF C-124C Globemasters from the 52nd Troop Carrier Squadron parked on the grass at the airport. -A. Joyce
10 April 1965
A large crowd crams the viewing areas of the terminal following the arrival of the first scheduled commercial jet flight (Qantas Boeing 707 VH-EBL). -Christchurch Star