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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.''