Aviation News

February 22, 2011

Christchurch International Airport Closed After Strong Earthquake Rocks New Zealand City

Christchurch International Airport was evacuated and closed early Tuesday afternoon after a strong earthquake struck near the New Zealand city, the airport said. Officials said they expect to reopen the airport for domestic flights at 8am local time Wednesday morning, but international service will remain suspended until further notice.

Christchurch International Airport website earthquake

The 6.3-magnitude earthquake at 12.51 p.m. local time (2351 GMT Monday) was centered about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) southeast of Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island of New Zealand. It struck about 5 kilometers (3 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake, according to the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GeoNet), the country’s seismological agency.

Christchurch International Airport was immediately evacuated as a precaution, but Police District Communications Manager Stephen Hill said there were no reports of injuries at the airport.

Sydney departures board shows cancelled flights to Christchurch

Sydney departures board shows cancelled flights to Christchurch. (Photo by AlJazSydANDREW)

“Christchurch Airport is currently closed. All inbound flights have been cancelled or diverted. Please do not travel to the airport,” the airport said in a brief statement, adding that main roads to and from the airport should be cleared for emergency vehicles. “The terminal buildings and airways control tower remain intact.”

Air New Zealand said it canceled flights in and out of Christchurch International Airport until at least 7 p.m. local time. “Air New Zealand has put on hold all flights into and out of Christchurch as we await information from Christchurch International Airport,” it said in a statement.

It was not immediately known how many flights were affected.