Wellington Airport (WLG/NZWN)

Printable Version
Hide routes

Wellington is home to the Southern Hemisphere’s most successful film and production industry. A 13m-long sculpture depicting Gollum from “The Lord of The Rings” features in the main terminal building which was renamed the “Middle of Middle-Earth” in 2012 for the release of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”.

Wellington Airport (WLG) is New Zealand’s second largest hub and serves the capital city (pop. 430,000). The local economy generates New Zealand’s highest GDP per capita due to the high proportion of business and financial services. WLG is located in the geographic centre of the country and is the only airport with international air services within central New Zealand.

Other major reasons to serve this airport

  • Wellington is New Zealand’s capital and second largest city attracting a significant number of regional and international business headquarters. It’s also home to 42 embassies/missions to all government departments including Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry of Culture and Heritage, Ministry of Economic Development, Immigration New Zealand, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Ministry of Transport.
  • Wellington has the highest GDP per capita in New Zealand and is the second largest regional economy (generates 14.2% of New Zealand’s GDP). Latest official regional data (2007-2010) has Wellington GDP growing 30% faster than the NZ average and over twice as fast as Auckland (Wellington GDP per capita was US$38,000 in 2010).
  • It is an affluent and high-yielding market underserved by international services and unserved by long-haul destinations - 18% of International Travel is for business purpose.
  • The population of Wellington’s urban area is 430,000 – about 490,000 residents live within the immediate region and 720,000 residents within 2 hours drive of the Airport.
  • Wellington’s film industry generates a significant amount of high yielding passengers. In 2012 80% of New Zealand’s film revenue was generated in Wellington.
  • Wellington Airport (WLG) is only seven kilometres (four miles) from Wellington’s city centre.
  • WLG has low competition: Only two airline groups fly internationally (Air New Zealand/Virgin Australia alliance and Qantas); monopoly positions on two routes; no international low cost carrier; no year-round Pacific Island service; no long haul flights to Asia or North America.
  • Only one two-class (Qantas) and no three-class operations.
  • WLG is expecting to double passenger numbers to 10 million by 2030.
  • Wellington cruise visitors have increased from around 35,000 in 2007 to 170,000 in 2013 (91 cruise ship visitations in 2013), including visits from the Queen Mary 2.  The significant growth in the size and number of cruise ship visits illustrates the increasing prominence of Wellington as a leisure/tourism destination.
  • Large long haul markets, including 161,000 to/from Asia, 151,000 to/from Europe, 125,000 to/from the Americas, 26,000 to/from Middle East/Africa with no non-stop service to Asia/the Americas, and no one-stop options to Europe.

Wellington’s runway length of 2,000m allows narrowbody and widebody services to Australia and the Pacific. Asia and North American services can operate directly to Wellington but require an intermediate refuelling stop from Wellington. The airport is currently investigating a $300M runway extension which will enable direct long haul services. In the meantime there is an opportunity for long haul airlines to serve Wellington via a triangular operation.

Marketing and other support

  • Airport provides incentives and support for capacity growth and the establishment of new routes.
  • Promotion through WLG multimedia, online and offline platform available.
  • Welling Airport (WLG) works closely with Regional and National Tourism organisations and operators.

The airport is 15 minutes away from central Wellington. The capital is home to New Zealand government agencies, and 42 international embassies/missions, Victoria and Massey Universities that have a combined total of 50,000 students, of which 7,000 are international from over 100 countries. Click here to enlarge the map.

Catchment area

New Zealand’s air freight business exported around US$6.2 billion and imported US$8.1 billion worth of goods in 2012, with Australia, USA and China being the largest air freight partners. CentrePort is New Zealand’s most strategically situated international port.

Under-served freight opportunities and other economic impact factors

  • Wellington Airport (WLG) freight capability is currently limited by the lack of wide-bodied aircraft, and long-haul services, representing a huge cargo opportunity for first mover.
  • WLG’s share of the air freight business was only 0.4% (1,500 tonnes or US$53 million); even though a 2007 freight study conducted by the airport showed Wellington’s catchment produces 30% of New Zealand’s GDP.
  • If more businesses in the Wellington Airport catchment could use services from WLG they would save at least one travel day for time critical products allowing a premium to be charged.
  • Freight forwarders: DHL Global; Mainfreight; World Courier; Toll; Xtreme forwarding (movie equipment); FedEx; and Pengelly’s.
  • Wellington catchment contains 28% of New Zealand’s employment in export-related sectors, and 27% of employment in import-related sectors.
  • Regional grants could be applied to establishing an air freight logistics centre.

Wellington Airport - GDP and Import/Export Jobs

Located in the suburb of Rongotai, Wellington Airport’s access is by road. Two Metlink bus routes serve the airport, including the 91 Airport Flyer that connects central Wellington and Wellington Railway.


  • Wellington Airport (WLG) is located in the suburb of Rongotai, seven kilometres (four miles) south-east from central Wellington.
  • Wellington Airport (WLG) is Air New Zealand’s domestic hub providing the best connectivity throughout New Zealand.
  • Airport Flyer Express bus service at 20-minute intervals.
Welling Airport: Domestic route map

Wellington Airport offers incentive schemes for capacity growth and new routes, both domestic and international. Air New Zealand and Qantas are the only carriers flying internationally to Melbourne and Sydney. Virgin Australia is the sole operator to Brisbane, and Air New Zealand operates seasonal services to Fiji over July/August.

Infrastructure & Operations

  • Runway(s): One runway – 2,081m, 25-40 ATMs per hour.
  • Slot Coordinated: Slot Coordinated Level 3.
  • Operating hours: 24/7 (scheduled flights restricted between 01:00-06:00).
  • Terminals: Single terminal with three piers-32,300 sq m (348,000 sq ft). Wellington’s “The Rock” Terminal officially opened in 2010, doubling the international capacity to 1,000 pax. per hour.
  • Min. connect time: 20 mins.
  • Code E certified airport (regularly has widebody aircraft charter visits).

Important infrastructure developments and/or other news

  • Wellington was recently listed as 43th on the Global Financial Centres Index.
  • $33 million terminal extension to be completed by 2015.
  • WLG was voted best airport in Australasia at the 2011 World Travel Awards. “The Rock” Terminal has won 13 awards including transport category at the prestigious World Architecture Festival and the Supreme Registered Master Builders Awards.
  • A recent 200m extension to the clearway will improve aircraft performance.
  • In 2012 Wellington was ranked the 13th most liveable city in the World (out of 221 cities), ahead of all cities in Asia, all cities (apart from one) in the Americas, and most European cities.

  • A $300m extension to the runway is currently being investigated which will enable direct services to Asia and North America

Vital statistics

  • Passenger numbers: 5.5m in 2013 (+3.5% on 2012), 4.7m domestic, 0.8m international.
    • International arrivals (by nationality growth last 12 months): Australia +5.8%, UK/EU +3.4%, North America +28.9%, Asia +22.9%.
    • International arrivals (by purpose growth last 12 months): Business -0.7%, Holiday +8.1%, Education +7%, VFR +5.9%.
    • International arrivals (by trip purpose): Business 18%, Holiday 31%, VFR 44%.
  • Largest carrier: Air New Zealand.
  • Other relevant vital statistics: Since 2003, WLG’s domestic passenger numbers have risen 3% per annum, and international passenger 5% per annum.