16 Feb 2020

Low expectations ahead of meeting about Wanaka Aiport extension

10:36 am on 16 February 2020

Focus groups are starting next week on the contentious proposal to expand Wanaka airport.

No caption

Wanaka Airport. Photo: RNZ / Tess Brunton

The focus groups, run by consultancy firm MartinJenkins will take place in Wanaka on Monday, and in Frankton on Tuesday, but only one representative from each community group can attend.

Wanaka Stakeholders Group chairperson Michael Ross, said expectations for the focus groups were low.

He said allowing one representative from a community group was not something he would call good practice.

"We were promised an open and transparent process six months ago when this was offered to the community, it's a matter of considerable impact on our our community, and for it to be truly meaningful it needs to be community led, not consultant led," Ross said.

Presently, there was no jet capable airport in Wanaka.

Residents in the area have raised concerns about a statement of intent from Queenstown Airport Corporation that was released in June.

The statement includes plans for a dual Queenstown-Wanaka airport business model catering for increased demand.

The plan envisages Wanaka becoming economically viable with the potential for scheduled services from 2025.

The Wanaka Stakeholders Group commissioned a report last year, which said passenger jets would have to take off and land every 10 minutes during a 12 hour day to cover costs and ensure an acceptable return rate from the $400 million investment.

The report author Richard Somerville said a return requires 3.14 passengers annually, which translated to more than 500 flights a week, carrying an average of 120 passengers.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs