Airline says airport company should approve Wanaka flights

The Sounds Air proposal for a Wanaka-Christchurch air service has already been delayed by more than two years.

Managing director Andrew Crawford confirmed yesterday an "ongoing discussion" with the Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) — which runs Wanaka Airport for the Queenstown Lakes District Council — began two and a-half years ago.

Mr Crawford said he had no idea why the QAC was unwilling to give approval.

"It’s bewildering."

Sounds Air wanted to add Wanaka to its network with 15 return flights to Christchurch per week, and could be operating within six weeks of being given approval.

It would use a nine-seat turbo-prop Pilatus PC12 aircraft.

QAC chief executive Colin Keel was not available for comment yesterday, but a statement issued by general manager corporate and community affairs Sara Irvine said the QAC "would not develop Wanaka Airport to introduce scheduled services" until the council had completed plans and assessments.

That commitment was set out in the QAC’s statement of intent.

Mr Crawford said his proposal did not require development at Wanaka Airport, as there were already various options available to handle passengers.

Asked if he considered the proposal required a major decision on QAC’s part, Mr Crawford said, "No, it does not."

Mr Crawford said he had been asked by the QAC to survey the Upper Clutha community.

The survey is being promoted by the Wanaka Stakeholders Group (WSG) which supports turbo-prop services but rejects the QAC’s proposed $400million redevelopment of Wanaka Airport for jet services.

Chairman Michael Ross said yesterday the WSG was "incredibly concerned" at the delays over the Sounds Air proposal.

"Here we have a situation where the QAC and the QLDC are screaming out for additional visitors ... but QAC appears to be blocking an initiative to recommence a turbo-prop service to Wanaka.

The QAC statement said it looked forward to the survey results and discussing the proposal to introduce scheduled services at Wanaka Airport "in due course".

Comments

The answer is simple: QAC wants Wanaka residents/tourists to use Queenstown Airport. It is called a monopoly, and they are abusing their power because they can. Typical technocrats.

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