20 May 2013

Airport cracks down on overnight sleepers

10:25 pm on 20 May 2013

Christchurch Airport says passengers who can't prove they have an early flight will be turned away from staying overnight when it fully reopens later this week.

The South Island airport has been criticised for turning away travellers wanting to sleep at the international lounge, but has had to close it to allow refurbishment work to be carried out.

From November 2012 to April 2013, an average of 72 people slept at the airport each night. The highest number was 200 on one night, with some travellers staying there for up to a week.

The airport said on Monday it is not an accommodation provider and does not believe some travellers who say they can't afford a hotel room.

However, chief operating officer Andy Lester said from later this week, people will be allowed to rest overnight - but only if they are booked on an early flight and can provide correct documentation to prove it.

"We will be checking that stringently in order that people just can't come out here and think that it's a free night. We're not an accommodation provider - we are an international airport."

Mr Lester said although there have always been some travellers wanting to rest at the airport ahead of flights, the problem got worse after recent damaging earthquakes.