New multi-purpose aviation facility takes off in Christchurch

A new era in New Zealand aviation begins tomorrow with the official opening of a $23 million air ambulance, air rescue and tourism aviation facility at Christchurch Airport. The new facility is owned and operated by one of New Zealand’s leading aviation companies, GCH (Garden City Helicopters) Aviation Limited.

The multi-purpose facility is the one of the largest of its kind in Australasia and is the home of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter and New Zealand Flying Doctor Service. The 9,000 square metre complex has direct runway access and a dedicated helipad. It also includes Christchurch’s first full-service reception gateway for the South Island’s rapidly growing corporate aviation market and is the centre for commercial, flight training and tourism operations for GCH Aviation.

GCH Aviation Chief Executive Andrew Currie says the new air centre is an absolute game-changer for Canterbury and the South Island.

“Our new centralised air ambulance and Westpac Rescue Helicopter base will benefit the entire community and boost high-value business and tourism to the region."

Andrew Currie, Chief Executive, GCH Aviation

“The new building also enables the company to continue to expand its business and provides a head office for our other operations throughout New Zealand and the Pacific."

As well as being the South Island’s sole fully integrated (EMS) air ambulance facility, the new centre has its own engineering and maintenance team operating from the facility.

Dr David Bowie, Chair of the Canterbury West Coast Emergency Care Coordination Team and Clinical Leader of the Canterbury Air Retrieval Service says high-level patient care is central to the EMS facility design.

“The new patient transfer facilities are some of the best in the world, meaning faster transfer of patients and support for their families from all over the South Island,” Dr Bowie says.

ChristchurchNZ Destination Manager, Caroline Blanchfield says GCH Aviation puts the region on the world stage as a luxury, high-end destination.

“Business and luxury travellers into the South Island now have fast, private secure entry and exit options using GCH’s Facility. Currently around 50 international corporate jets arrive into Christchurch Airport annually.”

Caroline Blanchfield, Destination Manager, ChristchurchNZ

The state-of-the-art facility, which took two years to build has direct runway access at Christchurch Airport and easy vehicle access from Grays Road to Christchurch city and State Highway 1.

Andrew Currie says the opening marks 35 years of operations for the team, which his father John Currie began in the early 1980s and has now expanded to six bases with over 120 staff across New Zealand and the Pacific.

GCH Aviation is New Zealand’s premier helicopter and fixed wing aircraft service operator, with facilities in Christchurch, Greymouth, Nelson, Wellington, Vanuatu and Fiji. GCH Aviation is the only helicopter company to hold the prestigious Helicopter Association of New Zealand Diamond Safety Award, and has a Qualmark Gold endorsement, validating it as a quality tourism business.

A combined emergency services open day at the new facility is on Sunday 29 April, with support for the Canterbury West Coast Air Rescue Trust.