Prepared for takeoff
Rapid growth in the use of Alexandra Airport and recent upgrades are unlikely to translate into passenger flights without help from the private sector, airport officials say.
Central Otago Flying Club committee member Nigel Forrester said passenger flights were trialled in the past and it would make sense.
However, it was unlikely.
‘‘I know passengers would like it,’’ Forrester said.
‘‘Air New Zealand have flatly said, ‘not in our lifetime’.
‘‘You never know, we might
get someone domestically that wants to do something.’’
New Zealand Aviation News writer Peter Owen believes it’s perfect for commercial flights.
‘‘It is close to a well-serviced town and it has clear skies, low levels of air traffic and 80 hectares of land associated. It is therefore well placed for development as a second-tier airport,’’ he wrote.
Dunedin’s Mainland Air trialled passenger flights from Dunedin to Alexandra in 2007-08 but ‘‘lost a lot of money’’.
‘‘If it was viable, we would do it. Simple as that,’’ Mainland Air chief executive Phil Kean said.
‘‘We tried it and it didn’t succeed.‘‘
But if private backers came to the party, Kean said he would consider it again.
An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said the airline had no intention of commencing operations from Alexandra.
Central Otago District Council property and facilities manager Mike Kerr said the council was ‘‘keen for all opportunities to be explored’’ and all private interests to be considered.
The council, which owns the airport land, recently invested $429,000 into an upgrade.
That money had paid for resealing the apron, and would be used to construct 25 private hanger lots and about 700m of taxiway. Work would be completed in the next six months.
Central Otago Flying Club president Gary Wilson said it was great an investment had been made, as Alexandra was fast becoming a base for general aviation.
The development of 25 new private hangar lots would increase its popularity, he said.
Club committee member Nigel Forrester said a plan was in place for the continued prosperity of the club and airport.
The new hangers, rest stop facilities and aircraft maintenance were all part of a 20-year plan for growth between the club and council, he said.
‘‘That will encourage more [pilots] to come in and spend in Alexandra and Clyde ... now that they know they can actually get into town, go for a meal in town, stay the night.
‘‘Alexandra is really becoming the destination.’’
Forrester owns the NZLX Motels at the airport.
Council property and facilities manager Mike Kerr said a ‘‘positive’’ relationship with hanger owners and the Flying Club meant Alexandra Airport was benefiting.