Airport runway too short for top bands

Coldplay's Chris Martin
Coldplay's Chris Martin
Dunedin airport's limitations could be another stumbling block to the city hosting top international music acts, it appears.

It was revealed yesterday Coldplay had considered playing the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, but ruled it out for logistical reasons.

The megaband from Britain is touring stadiums with its Mylo Xyloto tour and yesterday announced four dates in Australia and New Zealand, including one show in New Zealand at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland on November 10.

Asked yesterday if stadium representatives had tried to persuade Coldplay to play in Dunedin, Dunedin Venues Management chief executive David Davies said he had been "actively involved" with Coldplay's promoter over bringing the show to Dunedin, but after the promoter did some research, they decided to stick with just an Auckland show because of logistical issues.

Those were that the band's wide-bodied jet, which they used to transport their lighting rig, would be unable to fly fully laden out of Dunedin International Airport.

A representative of Coldplay's Australasian promoter, Chugg Entertainment, could not be reached for comment yesterday, and Coldplay's New Zealand publicist referred questions to Chugg.

But Dunedin International Airport chief executive John McCall said while he did not know what kind of jet Coldplay used, there were limitations at Dunedin because of the airport's runway.

A fully laden Boeing 747, for example, could not take off from Dunedin because the runway was too short.

In fact, the same was true of most New Zealand airports, apart from Auckland and Christchurch, Mr McCall said.

Top international acts reported to use Boeing 747s for transporting equipment include U2, Lady Gaga and Madonna.

Mr Davies said Dunedin would not get every show that came to New Zealand, but stadium acts always presented an opportunity which would be pursued.

Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin stayed in Dunedin in 2003 while his then soon-to-be wife Gwyneth Paltrow was filming the biopic Sylvia.


Oh, they've worked that one out now?

Apart from being out of the way and surrounded by a low population base, it was always kind of obvious that we didnt have the transport infrastructure to support the great white elephant stadium, be it our airport that is stretched to turn around three Boeing 737s in an hour, or the railway. But, of course, they knew best.

Airport runway

How predictable . . . and who's going to pay for another white elephant?

Do they release these statements for the fun of watching the ratepayers exasperate?


The facts and figures for most major aircraft, laden and unladen, are freely available on the Internet. It's easy to work out for example, that with a runway length of 1900m (<6000 feet), even an unladen 747 with minimal fuel, could barely depart Dunedin safely. And even easier to work out that with a runway width of only 45m, you couldn't land or take off in a 747 at all.

You would need a 3000m by 50m runway and taxiways. The current planning is to extend the length to 2400m, which is still insufficient for the larger aircraft. For example, currently a Boeing 777 ex-Shanghai with honeymoon couples bound for the new 5-star harbourside hotel would need to get off in Christchurch and take the bus.

Several people pointed out the limitation of the airport as a major factor that would affect both inbound tourist traffic and visiting entertainment acts (can't get enough people due to number of flights and can't get enough cargo in/out). These facts have not changed appreciably in the past 5-10 years.

The airport has consent to extend the runway to 2400m. I fully expect the construction of this to be bundled as the next "gateway project" in tandem with hotels and other speculative developments within the next 2-3 years. 2400m is still insufficient and wishful thinking does not change the runway or fuel requirements of major aircraft.


Revealed? It's unfortunate none of this was taken into consideration before building the "White Elephant". Even if we could fill it there wouldn't be enough accomodation available in Dunedin anyway. I am sure someone will come up with a viable use for it, the university might take it over as it would be cheap for them to run.

Nothing new here

This shouldn't be a surprise, we pointed out this fact in this very forum long before the council voted to build the stadium. Any big international act that wants to play in Dunedin has to land their gear in Christchurch and truck it south, that means they have to have a large expensive jet idle paying landing fees for 2-3 extra days - there's no reason why they would not play in Christchurch over Dunedin - and if they played in both towns Dunedin would only be pulling fans from Timaru south.

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