Num­bers stack up for run­way ex­ten­sion

The Dominion Post - - Opinion Letters - Steve San­der­son

chief ex­ec­u­tive of Welling­ton In­ter­na­tional Air­port Ltd

The En­vi­ron­ment Court’s re­cent re­jec­tion of a re­quest to strike out the re­source con­sent ap­pli­ca­tion for the pro­posed Welling­ton Air­port run­way ex­ten­sion may have left some Welling­to­ni­ans pon­der­ing whether the pro­ject re­mains on track (Six more months for plan to take flight, Jan 8).

The con­tin­ued le­gal ar­gu­ments mean that as a re­gion we con­tinue to miss out on the ben­e­fits and op­por­tu­ni­ties this trans­for­ma­tive pro­ject will de­liver.

It’s im­por­tant to note that the judg­ment does not mean Welling­ton Air­port has an­other six months to re­sub­mit its con­sent ap­pli­ca­tion to the En­vi­ron­ment Court.

Welling­ton Air­port is await­ing a de­ci­sion by the Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity (CAA) on the length of the planned ex­ten­sion’s run­way end safety ar­eas. That is the sole rea­son we asked the En­vi­ron­ment Court to keep our cur­rent re­source con­sent ap­pli­ca­tion on hold.

There has been over­whelm­ing back­ing from Welling­to­ni­ans, in­clud­ing the busi­ness com­mu­nity, ter­tiary and ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tutes, tourism or­gan­i­sa­tions and the cre­ative and film sec­tor.

That’s be­cause di­rect long­haul flights will de­liver real and tan­gi­ble re­sults for cen­tral New Zealand and be­yond.

It is worth re­mind­ing read­ers why we are de­ter­mined to stay the course de­spite the twists and Steve San­der­son

turns and the ef­forts of a small but vo­cal mi­nor­ity.

First of all, we have in­vested in com­pre­hen­sive re­search and anal­y­sis to con­firm the num­bers stacked up – this is not a pipe dream or a flight of fancy.

A ben­e­fit-cost anal­y­sis by re­search group Sapere shows a net eco­nomic ben­e­fit for New Zealand of $2.3 bil­lion and a ra­tio of 2.3. For ev­ery $1 in­vested in the run­way ex­ten­sion there will be up to $7.6 in net eco­nomic ben­e­fit for the coun­try.

There is also the na­tional ben­e­fit of hav­ing a strate­gi­cally lo­cated air­port that can help cater for the sus­tain­able growth in over­seas vis­i­tors. It will spread the in­fra­struc­ture load away from Auck­land and bet­ter en­able re­gional dis­per­sal along with im­prov­ing our re­silience.

Air­lines are will­ing to boost ser­vices out of Welling­ton, with grow­ing num­bers of Aus­tralian and Pa­cific flights along with the new Sin­ga­pore Air­lines ser­vice. Our own in­ter­na­tional pas­sen­ger num­bers have grown by 20 per cent over the past four years.

In­de­pen­dent anal­y­sis by route de­vel­op­ment ex­perts In­terVISTAS has con­firmed a sig­nif­i­cant, grow­ing and com­mer­cially vi­able mar­ket ex­ists for di­rect long-haul flights into and out of Welling­ton.

Since that anal­y­sis was un­der­taken, the mar­ket has con­tin­ued to grow and the ben­e­fits only get more com­pelling. The cur­rent long­haul mar­ket where Welling­ton is the clos­est in­ter­na­tional air­port is es­ti­mated to be 700,000 pas­sen­gers per year.

Asia-Pa­cific pas­sen­ger num­bers re­main fore­cast to more than dou­ble by 2035 and New Zealand’s Tourism 2025 frame­work is well on track to in­crease tourism’s value to $41b and en­sure sus­tain­able air con­nec­tiv­ity. But without di­rect long-haul flights for the cen­tre of the coun­try, there is a lot we are miss­ing out on.

So what will the ex­ten­sion mean for trav­ellers?

The des­ti­na­tions that are opened up by new air­lines and the ca­pa­bil­ity of new air­craft will pro­vide New Zealand trav­ellers with more choice, time and cost sav­ings.

Ex­tend­ing the run­way by 355 me­tres will dou­ble Welling­ton’s con­nec­tiv­ity to the world to 65 per cent within one stop and slash in­ter­na­tional trav­el­ling time from Welling­ton by up to 50 per cent.

Trav­el­ling long haul out of Auck­land from the Welling­ton re­gion takes about 48 per cent more time to Los An­ge­les and San Fran­cisco, 39 per cent to Sin­ga­pore and 30 per cent to Hong Kong. Sav­ing this time would also trans­late to fuel sav­ings by elim­i­nat­ing in­di­rect routes and stops.

Welling­ton Sta­dium, Brook­lyn Wind Tur­bine and Te Papa all faced some op­po­si­tion. They are now em­braced by Welling­to­ni­ans and vis­i­tors alike. The pro­posed run­way ex­ten­sion will be an­other gamechanger for the re­gion.

‘‘Without di­rect long-haul flights for the cen­tre of the coun­try, there is a lot we are miss­ing out on.’’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.