Over the years I've flown out of Auckland International many times - either flying domestically, crossing the ditch or taking a trip into the Pacific. I have blogged about a few of those airport transits in the past and one day I'll get around to showing off more of the photos, especially as nowadays most of the aircraft are out of service and Auckland is a very different airport. See the button below for previous blogposts relating to spotting experiences:
Anyway, flying out of Auckland internationally in the middle of the Pandemic was a very different experience, especially as with New Zealand's borders effectively closed it almost has to be a one way trip (unless you somehow manage to get an MIQ spot). Obviously for us it was and so we rocked up to an almost empty AIAL on December 30th ready for our departure with Singapore Airlines on flight SQ286.
The entire international terminal was effectively closed with almost no retail or food outlets open, either before or after immigration. In addition the newer A380 capable Pier B was closed, although aircraft were at the gates. Despite the lack of passengers traffic was still reasonably brisk, presumably due to belly cargo paying the way?
As we arrived at the pier an Air Tahiti Nui 787 was just departing:
Looking across the tarmac towards the domestic terminal one of the taxiways was being used for auxiliary parking of Air New Zealand Airbuses and the Olympus Airways 757 freighter SX-APX. This aircraft seems to have recently been sold to Airwork but is still parked. One of Airwork's 737-400 freighters, wearing ParcelAir colours, also landed whilst we were waiting.
Across the other side of the international pier could be seen Pier B with our Singapore A350 waiting at the closed gate 15.
Of course it has been quite a while since AIAL had a viewing area and so taking photos through glass is hardly ideal. Since our aircraft was parked at the closed pier we were shuttled to a lower gate lounge and onto a COBUS for transport to the A350, which afforded some interesting views and passable photo opportunities considering I was standing on a moving platform!
There was a decent selection parked at the remote gates including a pair of QF A330s, an MH A350, FJ A330 and the usual spread from Air New Zealand:
I felt a little honoured to board the 10,000th Airbus aircraft 9V-SMF, especially as I had arrived in New Zealand way back in 2005 on the 1,000th 747 9V-SMU.
The taxi took us out around the international terminal and past the domestic terminal to 23L.
Also passed on the way to the runway was the DHL apron with 767-300 VH-EXZ present and the GA ramp, which is also home to much of the Air Chathams fleet including the recently retired Convairs.
After a short hold at the runway we were off to Singapore and it was goodbye Auckland, possibly forever. Unfortunately our arrivals in Singapore and Heathrow were in the dark so there were no photo ops but I hope you've enjoyed this brief look at lockdown Auckland International.
I'm Richard Stretton, an aviation enthusiast and major collector of 400 scale model aircraft. This blog discusses ongoing events in the world of 400 scale.
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