Letter questions rationale for proposed Tarras airport

Auckland Airport has reinforced its position on the proposed airport at Tarras.

In a letter to Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult on Wednesday, Auckland Airport chairman Patrick Strange said the views of the minority shareholder in Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) "are unchanged" and it would "continue to support QLDC as it determines the strategic direction of this [QAC] business".

Mr Strange’s letter comes after the Otago Daily Times published an opinion piece by Queenstown resident John Hillhorst last month.

Mr Hillhorst wrote that Auckland Airport’s new chief executive Carrie Hurihanganui had, while employed as Air New Zealand’s chief ground operations officer in 2018, made a submission to QAC on behalf of the airline.

She submitted the national carrier did not consider increases to noise limits at QAC, even combined with investment into Wanaka Airport, "will ultimately be sufficient to sustainably grow visitor arrivals and the associated economic health of Central Otago", Mr Hillhorst wrote.

Ms Hurihanganui, who spent 21 years with Air NZ, was announced as Auckland Airport’s new chief executive last October.

In his letter to Mr Boult, Mr Strange said there were huge questions to be answered around the sustainability and economic rationale for the massive cost of developing a new airport in a region already well served by existing airport infrastructure.

tracey.roxburgh@odt.co.nz

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