Queenstown Airport Corporation has released its draft Statement of Intent (SOI), and the potential expansion of Wanaka Airport is firmly on its radar.
QAC is responsible for managing Wanaka and Queenstown airports on behalf of its shareholders Queenstown lakes District Council (75.01 percent) and Auckland International Airport Ltd (24.99 percent), and states in the draft SOI: “Ultimately, we aim to bring the long-term planning for Queenstown and Wanaka airports together to present a dual-airport proposition which will support and provide value to the communities we serve.”
Despite noting there “could be some headwinds on the horizon for New Zealand’s aviation and tourism sectors”, it plans to increase capacity at Queenstown Airport to the extent of the site’s constraints.
“We will need to manage growth to ensure compliance with our noise boundaries, which we expect to reach within the next three years. We have increased the frequency of our noise monitoring programme and are working closely with our airline customers to manage the rate of growth via flight schedules and route planning. Over time, capacity will be constrained at Queenstown Airport if the noise boundaries are not expanded, with the expected effects being more limited flight choices and other changes in commercial behaviour.”
Last year QAC faced backlash from the Frankton community over its proposal to extend noise boundaries at Queenstown Airport, while locally, the Wanaka Stakeholders Group has been vocal about its concern over what a possible dual-hub operation would mean and what the lasting impacts major airport changes could have on the community.
The possible expansion of Wanaka Airport has also been discussed at recent MyPlace meetings, with a resounding “no” declared from the airport’s neighbours in Luggate. One of the key messages about future development recorded at the Luggate gathering was, “No airport – worried about the scale and the infrastructure needs to be in first”.
At the Albert Town meeting last week, the desire to see airport moved further away from the settlement was also voiced.
QAC’s long-term lease for the management, planning and future development of Wanaka Airport commenced in April 2018. QAC is currently working on a master plan for the airport, with a draft master plan scheduled to be released for stakeholder and community engagement in 2020. The development of a dual airport model is set to be complete this year.
Councillors will consider the draft Statement of Intent at the full Queenstown Lakes District Council meeting today (Thursday).
Excerpt from the QAC Statement of Intent 2020-2022 | Wanaka Guiding Principles:
As part of the long-term lease process in 2017, QLDC and QAC developed principles to guide the management and development of Wanaka Airport:
1. QLDC and QAC are committed to the development of Wanaka Airport to support district growth and community needs.
2. QLDC and QAC support the operation, management, planning and development of Wanaka Airport by QAC as a key element of an integrated, complementary, district-wide strategy to foster the growth of aviation services.
3. QLDC and QAC acknowledge that the long-term lease arrangement regarding Wanaka Airport should vest economic control of Wanaka Airport in QAC and its terms should encourage investment in the Airport by QAC.
4. QLDC and QAC agree that the governance model for Wanaka Airport will be effective and similar to the current model in place for Queenstown Airport.
5. QLDC and QAC agree Wanaka Airport should become an economically viable and sustainable business.
6. QLDC and QAC believe that the support of the communities served by Wanaka Airport is important to its development.
7. QLDC and QAC agree to commit to engage with all of the stakeholders involved at the Wanaka Airport and the wider Wanaka community in future planning activities.
8. QLDC and QAC support Activities, (such as, general aviation, scientific research and education), and Events, (such as Warbirds over Wanaka), at Wanaka Airport.
9. These Activities and Events will require sustainable arrangements including an appropriate transition period.
The commercial vision is for Wanaka Airport to become a financially viable and sustainable airport, generating appropriate returns on its assets and contributing to the district's economic development and wellbeing of the community.
• We will adopt a commercial approach promoting and enabling sustainable growth whilst retaining the public, community and social values.
• We will consider the needs and activities of different operators and seek to adopt a ‘user pays’ model – operators pay for what they use and no more.
• All existing legal agreements will be honoured. Transitional arrangements will be developed to assist operators to move smoothly from the current model to a more sustainable model.
• We will actively engage with the airport community, particularly in the transition, giving everyone the opportunity to give feedback on the commercial approach.