Joint bid possible for airfield licence

Glide Omarama can't afford the $100,000 to get a new licence. Photo: Supplied/ Glide Omarama
Glide Omarama. Photo: Supplied/ Glide Omarama
Three operators may be based out of Omarama Airfield for the upcoming gliding season, as part of a joint bid to set up shop in the Waitaki Valley.

In early May, Omarama Airfield Ltd, the Waitaki District Council-controlled company that owns the airfield, put out a call for expressions of interest to companies interested in establishing a business there.

Seven companies, all based in New Zealand, responded by the May 22 deadline.

It was anticipated the winner of a three-year operating licence, which had an option of two rights of renewal and might include exclusive rights for specific services, would be announced in late June or early July.

However, Omarama Airfield Ltd chairman Clive Geddes said that decision had been delayed, probably until the end of this week at the earliest, after three companies expressed a desire to put forward a joint application.

"We are giving them the space to do that. That clearly is something they find of interest and it’s not up to us ... we want to proceed the application [process]."

If the joint bid failed, each individual application would then be assessed.

Mr Geddes said the airfield company could issue multiple licences which meant more than one operator might be based there come gliding season between September and May.

"The company can issue as many licences as it likes so it’s not necessarily about one; it’s more about what services each licence covers."

An advertisement on the Gliding New Zealand Facebook page said the company considered applications "for any one or all of towing, cross-country and ab initio training, trial and or scenic flight services".

The most recent licence expired on June 30.

The call came after the Civil Aviation Authority in March told Glide Omarama to stop flights as it needed to re-certify from being a recreational aviation organisation to an adventure aviation operation.

The cost — more than $100,000 — meant the business was forced to close, with the loss of 21 jobs, shortly before Covid-19 restrictions put activities at the airfield on hold.

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