Central dual airports option recommended

Wanaka airport runway. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Wanaka airport runway. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
A dual Queenstown-Wanaka airports arrangement has been highlighted as the best option for the future of commercial travel in and out of Central Otago.

The Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) yesterday released a 12-page report prepared by Australian consultant Arup on options to overcome pressure on Queenstown Airport.

The report includes 20 possible airport sites and concludes the best option was for a dual Queenstown-Wanaka airports arrangement.

The report says commercial flights to Wanaka are likely to begin with ATR aircraft.

It lists the strengths of the dual airports arrangement as "shared noise impacts" on Queenstown and Wanaka communities, new facilities at both airports and limiting "redundant spend on existing Queenstown Airport".

The weaknesses are the "significant infrastructure investment required to duplicate facilities", less operational efficiency, "less attractive from a passenger perspective" and that the QAC does not own Wanaka Airport.

The QAC leases the airport from the Queenstown Lakes District Council and has indicated it could spend up to $400million at Wanaka Airport.

A spreadsheet of 12 possible airport sites indicates for Wanaka a "positive impact" on the community and on existing infrastructure, and a "neutral" impact on roads.

The Arup report is one of five reports done on alternative airport sites since 1987 and it includes the airstrips at Gore, Te Anau, Alexandra, Cromwell racecourse, Ranfurly, Hawea Downs, Glenorchy, Omarama, Centre Bush, Mandeville, Roxburgh, Hollyford, Pukaki, Queenstown Hill, Jardines, St Patricks, Millers Flat, Lauder and Mossburn.

Wanaka airline pilot Terry Hetherington said he could not understand why the Arup report did not include the airstrip near Lowburn, called Cromwell or Sugarloaf Terrace, which a 190-page, 1995 study concluded was the best site for aircraft up to Boeing 767 size.

"It should have been included in the Arup study. Why wasn't it?"

John Hillhorst, a member of the Frankton-based Flightplan 2050 group that wants Queenstown Airport relocated, said the report contained little of substance.

He noted it included the airstrip at Hollyford, near Milford Sound, but not the Lowburn airstrip, "despite the latter showing potential in the 1995 study".

It also did not examine the land value of Queenstown Airport.

Mr Hilhorst believed it was "inevitable" Queenstown Airport would close, leaving Wanaka Airport with all the region's air traffic.

"That's like the 50-year end-game.

"The question is, do we want it to end up in Wanaka or would it be better placed somewhere else?"
 

Comments

Once again, why is Dunedin not featured as an option? I appreciate this Council is anti-growth but surely Dunedin can play a part here, it just needs the right leadership and vision to make it happen.