A new biosecurity lane at Auckland Airport will allow speedier clearance of passengers, helping the Ministry for Primary Industries manage the huge number of travellers expected to arrive in New Zealand this summer.
The new lane is for New Zealand and Australian passport holders who don’t have any food or other biosecurity risk items to declare. The lane and other layout changes will be officially opened today with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the airport.
"In the past, New Zealand and Australian travellers could be held up waiting for biosecurity staff to check goods declared by passengers ahead in the queue," says Steve Gilbert, MPI Border Clearance Services Director.
"The new layout will prevent this type of congestion. Kiwis and Aussie travellers who don’t have anything to declare will go straight to risk assessment via their own queue line."
The airport’s biosecurity area has also been enlarged. This has allowed MPI to introduce an additional baggage x-ray machine, bringing the total up to seven machines at the airport.
The extra space will also allow MPI to have two detector dog teams on duty at the same time – one for travellers eligible to exit via MPI’s Green Lane, the other for those undergoing x-ray screening of their baggage.
The Green Lane system, which MPI has had in place for nearly five years, allows low-risk New Zealand and Australian travellers to bypass baggage x-ray screening.
"The extra dog team will allow us to maximise the use of Green Lane. When our dog team has been called away from the Green Lane in the past, we have had to redirect eligible passengers to x-ray, adding to the processing time," says Mr Gilbert.
He says the changes have been developed in partnership with Auckland Airport, who will provide staff to direct travellers to the correct biosecurity lanes and have funded the layout changes.
"Both organisations have worked hard to ensure the changes enhance biosecurity as well as provide a better experience for travellers."
Says Judy Nicholl, Auckland Airport’s general manager of aeronautical operations: “Auckland Airport congratulates MPI on the opening of its Green Lane, and the introduction of an additional baggage x-ray machine and new detector dog teams.
"These are positive initiatives that will improve the international arrival experience for low-risk New Zealand and Australian travellers. We welcome their very timely arrival as we enter our busy summer peak season."
MPI is anticipating international passenger arrivals at Auckland Airport to increase by between 12 and 16 percent this summer, compared with the 2015/16 season. Last summer MPI cleared 1,664,117 passengers at the airport between November and February.
"Our busiest day last year was around 17,000 passengers. We’re expecting to clear more than 18,500 passengers on our busiest day this summer," says Mr Gilbert.
The biggest passenger increases are expected to come from Asia, the Middle East and the United States.