Govt wary of picking airport site

Phil Twyford. Photo: file
Phil Twyford
Air New Zealand believes the Government should help decide the location of a new Otago airport, but Transport Minister Phil Twyford has rejected the idea of the Government's involvement.

Airline chief executive Christopher Luxon said last month it was time to have ''a conversation'' about an alternative to the Queenstown Airport Corporation's (QAC) dual Queenstown-Wanaka airport proposal.

However, the airline provided no details about what location it was suggesting, other than referring to ''central Otago''.

Asked to explain, an Air New Zealand spokeswoman said in an email this week the airline's purpose in raising the new airport idea was ''to start a strategic conversation about the airport infrastructure requirements for Central Otago in the long term''.

''We firmly believe that airlines, local authorities and Government should begin the process of engaging in a conversation about the right airport infrastructure for Central Otago for the long term.

''This conversation should sit alongside work already under way looking at other infrastructure opportunities to cater for the surge in tourism growth in Central Otago.''

Tim Cadogan
Tim Cadogan

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said by email late yesterday it was ''ultimately a matter for Queenstown Airport Corporation and the local community''.

Mr Twyford did say he was ''continuing to monitor the situation''.

Central Otago District Mayor Tim Cadogan yesterday said he also believed the Government needed to be involved with ''something of that magnitude'', possibly in the ''legislative process'' or even in funding it.

Mr Cadogan said he had one brief conversation with an Air NZ executive, which provided little new information about what location the airline might be suggesting.

The council's first obligation would be to consult the affected community but ''with no clear direction other than a generic central Otago spelt with a small 'c' it's very hard to do that.''

Mr Cadogan said he had had business people saying, ''I must advocate for ... where the new international airport goes''.

But, he had also had a significant number of people saying ''don't you dare get involved in putting an airport anywhere near my piece of paradise''.

Until the council got ''even the vaguest indication'' of where an airport might go, having a conversation was ''basically an impossibility'', he said.


Of course not.... Making a decision by themselves makes them cold sweat during a heatwave

Pukaki Airport!

Why is there no mention of an expansion of Dunedin Airport. I understand that the Leaders of Dunedin want Dunedin to remain in the 1800's but surely Dunedin Airport could be a viable alternative?