A $1.6 billion argument for shifting Queenstown airport
- by Peter Newport :
- Apr 29,2019
Local residents were briefed this evening on an audacious, community led plan to move Queenstown airport to a new regional site that would release up to $1.6 billion for 5,000 new houses, a hospital and new green spaces.
The study has been carried out by local experts Gillian Macleod and David Jerram and echoes a submission from Air New Zealand last year that argued Queenstown airport is not capable of realistic future expansion. Macleod and Jerram propose the airport is sold to take the pressure off local housing as well as removing what they call "an obstacle to sustainable development."
A new regional airport would also take the pressure off Wanaka airport where the Queenstown Airport Corporation propose investing around $350 million to produce jet aircraft capacity for up to two million passengers a year. Wanaka residents have been slow to warm to the idea with many voicing active opposition.
Ironically the boss of the Queenstown Airport Corporation, Colin Keel, could not attend tonight's meeting as he was in Wanaka.
The meeting was also told of increasing safety concerns at Queenstown airport due to the lack of safety zones at the end of each runway. David Jerram told the audience that a technical officer working for the Airline Pilots Association had told him that it was not a question of if an aircraft will go off the end of the runway at Queenstown airport, but when.
Meeting organiser David Mayhew spoke to Crux after the presentation.
The meeting was presented with detailed economic arguments showing that the Queenstown Airport Corporation would have to take on very significant debt, and risk, to fund their own existing expansion plans.
Projections from the Queenstown Airport Corporation forecast up to 7.1 million passengers by 2045, spread between newly expanded airports in both Queenstown and Wanaka.
Concept drawings showed an advanced community of green spaces, town houses and a transport hub at the northern end of area.
The plans also include a linear park running through the main airport zone, all of the way down to Frankton beach (see below and main image above).
Crux also announced tonight that we would be supporting the project with a new type of citizen engagement programme, in partnership with one of the world's leading online democracy tools, Ethelo.org , based in Vancouver.
The programme will run in two phases - the first being Ideation, or the gathering of ideas to gauge areas of support for the airport project. The second phase, the decision making phase, will allow the community to make its own decision on the best combination of airport initiatives for the district. Crux and Ethelo CEO John Richardson presented the idea to Mayor Jim Boult at a recent meeting in Queenstown.
The project will also look at the role that Dunedin and Invercargill airports could play in the overall economic and tourism strategy for the lower South Island.
Crux has approached Air New Zealand for comment.
Crux spoke with Queenstown Airport Corporation CEO Colin Keel in October 2018, shortly after the community had rejected his Queenstown airport expansion plans.