Businesses mostly back airport plan

Expansion of Wanaka Airport was supported by 52% of the members of the Wanaka Chamber of Commerce who took part in a survey late last year.

Of 142 who responded to the question of how supportive they were, 28 were extremely supportive, 27 were very supportive and 19 were somewhat supportive, while 49 (34%) were not supportive and 19 did not know enough to comment.

However, 72% favoured the return of domestic flights to Wanaka Airport, and several said they would prefer smaller, non-jet aircraft.

The Queenstown Airport Corporation is investigating development of Wanaka Airport to cope with a projected big increase in visitors to the Lakes District over the next 25 years.

The top concern about expanding Wanaka Airport was it would ``change the fabric of the Wanaka community'', followed by concerns about noise, rising visitor numbers and the population ``getting too big''.

The biggest advantage was seen to be easier commuting for business purposes, followed by a boost to the local economy and increased infrastructure.

One respondent commented: ``It would be wrong to support this [expansion] on the basis of personal business benefits. Basing decisions on increased income is selfish and plain wrong.''


Businesses were asked a question without knowing about airports. Firstly, the current 1,200m runway only took Eagles 19 seaters. It could just take the Q300. But any lengthening for the ATR72 or jets, will require an additional clear 240m safety area each end and 120m clear area from any terminal buildings. Currently buildings are encroaching and needed. So an entire new and 15m wider runway, further over. Then infrastructure = new terminal, car parking, buses, car rentals, full time firemen, retail, supermarket, new hotels and accommodation for these new workers - and before Wanaka businesses know it, this airport will take over the entire town, like it has Frankton. Then they will go to night flying. Airport companies operate by silent stealth - an expansion here, an expansion there and boom. Queenstown airport should never have been expanded but only a few of us saw that years ago. There is nowhere else in Central Otago with clear skies and freedom of flight paths needed but can the town take it long term? No. The only option is to use Invercargill airport which is already up to standard and put rail into Queenstown. Both feet on the ground folks and brains thinking long term.