Aviator backs Wanaka

Milford Air owner Hank Sproull is backing the Queenstown Airport Corporation's plan to develop Wanaka Airport for commercial traffic.

Mr Sproull has been flying tourists from Queenstown Airport to Milford Sound since 1998.

At a meeting in Frankton last week, where the idea of moving the airport to somewhere like Tarras was being promoted, he spoke up in defence of the airport's current location.

"The airport is the heart of Queenstown,'' he said yesterday.

At the same time, he agreed with Frankton residents who do not want expansion of the airport because of the added noise and congestion.

"We don't want to end up with the place becoming so overcrowded and so [lacking in facilities] that people say, `Don't go there; it's too busy; it's too crowded; it's just a mess'.''

He rejected the idea of diverting tourists to Dunedin and Invercargill.

"If you go somewhere for a holiday you want to go to the destination, not two hours down the road.

"You want to land as close as you can to the destination.

That's the guts of it.''

He also rejected the idea of Tarras because of the extra travel, the suggested fog problem and because of the infrastructure required, including accommodation for more than 1000 people who work at Queenstown Airport.

He believed from "an aviation point of view'' developing Wanaka was the best option.

"Wanaka's got potential.

"There's no reason why they couldn't put an airstrip over there that would take A320s or Boeing 737s and take a bit of pressure off.''

Mr Sproull said "feeder airlines'' could be used to ferry passengers between Wanaka and Queenstown.

"It's only 10 minutes in one of our turbo props.''

Mr Sproull traces Queenstown's development as the country's premier tourist destination to the decision in 1992 to begin international flights directly from Australian cities into Queenstown Airport.

"That really drove the place to where it is today.

It's been a huge success for the town and every business in the town has benefited hugely from that.''



Mr Sproull said "feeder airlines could be used” "It's only 10 minutes in one of OUR turbo props.'' Ahhh so we have a vested interest.

“The airport is the heart of Queenstown''. It’s also the lungs, eyes, nose and ears!

"If you go somewhere for a holiday you want to go to the destination, not two hours down the road” (Invercargill). Now that could give more work to your feeder airline Mr Sproull, but even in Fiji, Aussie, America, Europe, England -you land 2 hours from your destination. They all want to come to Queenstown, so they still will.

He believed from "an aviation point of view developing Wanaka was the best option”. Of course it is – it will just ruin the town that’s all and be a short term fix.

Dugup is right on the money. Vested interests have always been behind the present site and from day one it’s had its issues. Of course its ultra convenient to have the airport so close to Queenstown but no longer at the environmental & social costs it presents.
Planes are frequently diverted to Dunedin when Queenstown is closed and passengers bused onward. The trip is no longer or anymore inconvenient than travel anywhere in the world as Dugup states.
Dunedin Airports open 24/7 and poses no issues at all.
The solution though is indeed a provincial wide consensus.

Thanks Mikenette = I am not aware of any ZQN diversions going to DUD, not in the last many years. They mostly have gone to CHC but more recently to IVC which is their first preference.

From the point of view of IVC or DUD = I have no loyalties, I live in the McK. The difference is
an extra hours drive on a worse road which could not be improved whereas IVC only has the Devils Staircase as an issue and in the future, rail could be put back with a tunnel under the Devils.
Queenstowns future growth will head south towards Invercargill (Jacks Point happening now & Kingston).
IVC is closer to Milford (actually its also closer than Queenstown) which is where most of the Queenstown visitors go plus the growing Stewart Island market.
IVC has clearer air space saving fuel and a shorter flight time. From AKL it is the same time to fly to IVC as it is ZQN or DUD.
DUD also poses an issue of being much further to accommodation and services whereas IVC is a walk to all that literally.
Dunedin is one of my favourite cities to visit and is underrated but from the point of view if an international airport servicing Queenstown - there is no comparison against IVC.