Flying school set to lose lease at airport, raising big worries
Concerns have been raised that pilots will lose valuable mountain flying experience if Queenstown Airport terminates a 45-year-old lease with the Wakatipu Aero Club flying school.
At a Queenstown Lakes District Council meeting, held in Queenstown yesterday, concerns were made in the public forum about the suggestion the club move training and private flying to Wanaka from June, when the lease expires.
Queenstown lawyer and aviation enthusiast Revell Buckham, speaking on behalf of club president Adrian Snow, said the school was the only provider of advanced mountain flying training for Queenstown-based general aviation operations.
The school attracted national and international pilots.
The skills and knowledge the club offered were not available elsewhere and training needed to be provided in the area so there was no ‘‘degradation of safety’’.
Founded in 1970, the club operates the school and a commercial Air Wakatipu service to Milford Sound, which the airport corporation has said could remain.
Mayor Vanessa van Uden said there was an opportunity for the club to have further discussions with the airport corporation.
However, she said as the council was a shareholder, the advice was not too get involved and to leave it to the airport board.
She urged with club to meet with the airport corporation to ‘‘explore further options’’.