Airport master plan finalised

Glen Sowry
Glen Sowry
A master plan to guide the development of Queenstown Airport over the coming decades has been finalised.

The plan was approved by the Queenstown Airport board of directors on Thursday, on the back of endorsement by the shareholders, the Queenstown Lakes District Council and Auckland International Airport Ltd last month.

Consultation on a draft version of the master plan began in May and involved an extensive community engagement programme, as well as a series of meetings and workshops with airport stakeholders, a press release from the airport said yesterday.

"A great deal of work and analysis has gone into incorporating the feedback received and finalising our master plan," Queenstown Airport chairwoman Adrienne Young-Cooper said.

"We’d like to thank those who engaged with the consultation process and took the time to respond to our proposals."

Airport chief executive Glen Sowry said the high level of interest shows how important Queenstown Airport is to the Southern Lakes region.

"We are committed to developing an innovative airport that people love to travel through and that serves our communities well, far into the future."

The plan focuses on the infrastructure needed in the coming decade, while making provision for the decarbonisation of aviation and other infrastructure that will be needed beyond 2032.

Before individual projects begin, detailed precinct planning will be undertaken to test the assumptions made in the master planning process and ensure each precinct is technically, operationally and financially feasible. It will also help establish the staging of the airport development.

"As we progress to design and programme implementation, the [Queenstown Airport Corporation] Board will review and approve detailed timing and prioritise the roll-out of projects," Mrs Young-Cooper said.

"This is an exciting stage for Queenstown Airport as we create an airport that reflects the best of our region and preserves its unique and special character."

The master plan has some aims on progress through to 2032.

Queenstown Airport is the fourth busiest airport in the country by passenger numbers, behind Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch airports.

The airport is located on 153.5ha of land — 136.9ha of which are designated for aeronautical purposes.

The airport has two shareholders: Queenstown Lakes District Council (75.01%) and Auckland International Airport Limited (24.99%).

The master plan said Queenstown Airport experienced strong growth between 2012-2019.

After a slow three years because of the pandemic, demand for air travel started to return in 2022 and is now back to pre-Covid levels, which peaked at 18,000 aircraft movements and 2.4million passenger movements.

The airport is actively managing demand and expects growth rates over the coming years to be more modest than experienced before 2020.

The airport is projecting 1.6 million arriving passengers, or 3.2 million passenger movements, by 2032.

It had 2.3 million passenger movements this year or 17,9000 aircraft arrivals.

The airport is looking to introduce larger, quieter and more fuel-efficient aircraft, enabling incrementally higher numbers of passengers per aircraft while continuing to operate within its noise boundaries.

International passengers are expected to account for about a-third of passengers flying to and from Queenstown, as is the case today.

The master plan identifies areas that will not be developed in the short-to-medium term but have been protected for planning purposes beyond 2032.

No assumption has been made about passenger volumes, aircraft movements or aircraft fleet composition in the later years.