Queenstown Airport expansion - today's the day
The results of public consultation on the expansion of Queenstown airport will be released today. Elected officials of the Queenstown Lakes District Council were given a confidential briefing at a council meeting on Monday afternoon.
A lot is riding on the outcome of the consultation process as well as the airport's recommendation on next steps.
If, as expected, the public response is predominantly against airport growth it's hard to see what options the airport corporation has, apart from asking for noise boundaries to be extended anyway, in case public onion shifts or is to be ignored. The airport may of course suggest a limited growth plan, hoping that will be seen as a compromise.
A Crux survey of over 500 people found that 84% were opposed to further expansion of the airport.
Air New Zealand has upped the stakes in this process by discussing their interest in the creation of a new regional airport away from both Queenstown and Wanaka.
Crux will have full coverage of today's announcement and consultation numbers. The release of information is expected late morning.
The consultation outcome has been supplied to the Queenstown Lakes District Council in its capacity as regulator of the airport - but it is also a 75% shareholder in the airport. Some commentators have noted that these two roles present a potential conflict of interest for the local council. QLDC would need to approve any changes to the airport's noise limits.
Today's outcome will also affect how the potential expansion of Wanaka airport is handled, given that QAC owns Wanaka airport and a separate consultation process is in progress on that plan. Lack of expansion in Queenstown could put more pressure on the need for Wanaka airport to grow faster.
Air New Zealand's recent announcements cast doubt over the airline's support for either airport being expanded, with preference instead for a new airport located in Central Otago roughly halfway between both Queenstown and Wanaka.