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Natasja Barnard

Terminal Facilities Manager - Asset Planning and Maintenance

Meet Natasja, our Terminal Facilities Manager who makes sure the ‘engine room’ of our airport keeps ticking. Ever heard of Nosy Sakatia? Find out why it’s her favourite travel destination (and where it is!).


What do you do as a Terminal Facilities Manager at the airport? My role is to ensure that the facility and its assets are monitored, managed and maintained to ensure the building is safe and compliant.  My portfolio includes the terminal building, baggage handling system, air bridges, nose-in guidance systems, and the ground power units on the apron. This also means doing some fun after-hours testing of our emergency systems when there’s no passengers in the terminal!

What do you love most about your job? No two days are the same.  I love all the cool stuff that’s happening behind the scenes in the engine room that passengers don’t see or necessarily know about - like what happens with your bag after it has been checked in; how the heating and cooling system of the building works; and our intricate smoke control and fire evacuation system.  Getting up close and personal with aircraft is an added bonus!

Favourite airport initiative? In 2019, my colleague (and mentor!), Mike, led a project to replace the old fossil fuel boilers in the international part of the terminal with energy efficient ground source heat pumps (also called geothermal heat pumps or geo-exchange systems).  This heating and cooling technology reduced the airport’s Scope 1 emissions by 83% over the past year.  This is an amazing achievement and Christchurch Airport is the first in the world to achieve the new global standard in carbon reduction at airports.   

Most exciting moment on the job? The thrill of seeing our efforts to reduce energy consumption pay off. Plus, the assortment of planes and airlines that visit the airport is always a sight to see, like the Emirates A380, South African Airways in September 2020, NASA’s SOFIA, and the variety of aircraft during the Antarctic season.

How did you get into Facilities Management? Before Christchurch Airport, I spent most of my career in heavy industry, including mining and pulp and paper. After my apprenticeship, I worked as an Industrial Measurement and Control Technician.  Furthering my studies enabled me to transition into Maintenance Planning and Asset Management. From there, Facilities Management was a natural avenue. 

Most memorable flying experience? My first long haul flight was alone as a shy, scared and none the wiser 18-year-old embarking on my OE from South Africa to Salt Lake City, USA. It took me 36 hours and four flights to get there, and I decided there and then I would never book the window seat in a three-seat configuration in economy class again…

An interesting fact that most people wouldn’t know about you? I sat my advanced scuba diving course in Madagascar.

What are you happiest doing when you’re not working? I recharge by exercising and spending time in nature.  I really enjoy going out on day hikes or mountain bike trips in Canterbury.  I also volunteer my time to conduct pest control in the Craigieburn Forest Park.

Biggest life accomplishment? Being able to call Aotearoa home. ❤

What’s your favourite travel destination? A little island called Nosy Sakatia, which lies off the island of Nosy Be, just off the North-West coast of Madagascar. Great people, fantastic food, off the grid, and the cell phone stays in the suitcase.  The water is a lovely 29 degrees with world-class, unspoiled reefs, and a diverse range of marine life.  Plus, there’s the most incredible scuba-diving and night diving at more than 30 dive sites. 

I can’t wait for the Pacific travel bubble to open so I can experience our neighbouring island nations’ hospitality and scuba diving.