Mayor rules out moving airport

Queenstown Airport. Photo: ODT files
Queenstown Airport. Photo: ODT files
Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult has ruled out the ‘‘extreme suggestion’’ of relocating Queenstown Airport.

The council is updating the statement of intent (SOI) it uses to direct the Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) board.

Jim Boult.
Mayor Jim Boult

But the QAC would not be directed to consider moving the airport, according to a statement from a council spokesman late yesterday.

‘‘In keeping with Mayor Boult’s statement, the updated SOI will look to pause and understand the economic and social effects of the current plans rather than pursue more extreme suggestions such as relocating Queenstown Airport.’’

The ‘‘current plans’’ are for a dual Queenstown-Wanaka airport arrangement, which includes a $400million development of Wanaka Airport over 25 years.

The Queenstown-based Flight Plan 50 group, which is opposed to the expansion of Queenstown Airport, believes the council should direct the QAC to consider relocating the airport.

Group member Gillian MacLeod said yesterday she had already come to the conclusion Mr Boult and the QAC had not changed their thinking.

‘‘It just seems utterly predetermined.’’

She believed the social and economic studies announced by Mr Boult were just an attempt to ‘‘placate the masses by feeding them circuses and bread, try and engage them in some sort of survey on one hand and do something completely different on the other hand’’.

‘‘I’m not saying moving the airport is the only decision you can do, but it should be an open part of the debate.’’

Ms MacLeod said she had just nominated a candidate to stand against Mr Boult for the mayoralty, but would not disclose his name.

Yesterday, the QAC released the minutes of its meeting on December 11, 2018, at which it decided to explore the Queenstown-Wanaka proposal.

The minutes show the board ‘‘agreed’’ with the dual airport proposal but showed no consideration was given to moving Queenstown Airport.

They did show the board discussed the capability and role of Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill airports in ‘‘diversifying growth’’.

‘‘As part of our social licence to operate, the inclusion of these airports in any planning is important.’’

Sharing Queenstown Airport’s traffic has been promoted by groups opposed to expansion of Queenstown and Wanaka airports, although QAC chief executive Colin Keel said last month it was a matter for the airlines, not the airports.

An Air New Zealand spokeswoman yesterday declined to answer questions about the airline making more use of Invercargill.

Air NZ begins a trial of direct flights between Auckland and Invercargill on August 25.


Since when does a mayor have the power of a dictatorial president?
The airport is still largely owned by the council. Ratepayers are the "shareholders" of that council and therefore the airport business. Despite what some transitory public official thinks, he does not have power of veto over the ratepayers of the lakes district.
Enough people may want to move the airport and build something central to serve Wanaka, Queenstown and Cromwell. That would be preferable than continuing to try and squeeze the airport into increasingly valuable land at Frankton. And if those people are ever presented a proper business case for a central airport then they might be able to make a rational decision. The sale of land at Frankton and saving the cost of not developing Wanaka airport would add to a large chunk of money.

But a single local politician does not have the authority to act as this bloke is. Maybe its a good thing a few contenders are standing for election.

Well said Keith.
I fully concur that ZQN cannot be allowed to expand and in fact it should not handle anything more than propeller aircraft and nor at night. Same with WKA.
International airports become 'mini cities' and any international airport in Central Otago will ruin any part. I am aware that to shift the nonsense away from Queenstown & Wanaka, efforts are being made to find a greenfields site. Firtsly that would cost about 2 Billion. Secondly it would clog the Kawarau Gorge. Thirdly there are in fact no adequate sites with the necessary expansion and clear skies (economic climb outs & safe approaches) required.
Meanwhile IVC waits patiently at no cost all set to go - only a 2 hour drive away.