One flight every 10 minutes ‘fundamentally flawed’ says QAC

Report author Richard Somerville.

The Wānaka Stakeholders Group (WSG) released a report on Monday with their estimates of flight traffic based on an investment of $400 million and their numbers are staggering. Author Richard Somerville believes there could be a plane taking off or landing every ten minutes at Wānaka Airport. 

The analysis concludes that “a market return on $400 million requires an annual throughput of 3.14 million passengers in order to cover costs and provide a commercial return in line with broadly similar commercial airport operations. In physical terms, this is going to result in 26,200 flights in or out of Wānaka Airport each year, or one flight every 10 minutes (based on a 12-hour flying window per day).”

For critics who accuse this report of being biased, Somerville states, “My work has been peer reviewed, the result of which was that my analysis and fundamental approach was found to be solid. My methodology is outlined in detail in this document.”

However, Colin Keel, Executive Officer QAC, said Somerville’s underlying assumptions were fundamentally flawed.

 “The analysis prepared by Mr Somerville has been commissioned by the Wānaka Stakeholders Group to support its opposition to the development of Wānaka Airport,” said Keel. “QAC was not contacted by Mr Somerville prior to the analysis being shared publicly.  QAC does not propose to comment on the fundamentally flawed analysis except to say the quality of any analysis depends on the accuracy and reasonableness of the underlying assumptions. The assumptions which appear to underlie the Wānaka Stakeholders Group’s analysis do not reflect the basis on which QAC would proceed with development at Wānaka Airport and as a result grossly exaggerate any likely outcome.  For example, any investment would be spread over a 25+ year period and not all spent up-front, with only a portion being required to re-introduce scheduled services.  

“Further, airport revenues are not solely based on passenger activity, as airports have varied revenue streams which the analysis only considers in a cursory manner.  QAC will wait for QLDC to undertake its economic and social impact assessments and share the district spatial plan being developed with Government before providing more detail on any future airport development planning."


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