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Butt Out of Whenuapai Airport Barry Curtis

Butt Out Barry

Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey has accused Manukau City of selfishness aimed at preserving Manukau’s privileged position as the only city in the region with a commercial airport.

His comments come after Manukau City Council’s strategic development committee was critical of Waitakere’s push to turn the current airbase at Whenuapai into a commercial airport.

“Mangere airport has been an absolute bonanza for Manukau City, not just through their shareholding, but because the airport has attracted substantial business to relocate in the area.

” Sir Barry should butt out of the debate and put the interests of the region first.

“Manukau is a major shareholder in Auckland International Airport and they simply want to prop up both the value of their shares and their monopolistic mates,” he says.

Mr Harvey says Manukau’s opposition is short-sighted and selfish.

“What about the rest of the region which has to spend up to two hours in traffic just to get a flight? Not to mention the fact that the northwest will lose $250 million a year out of its local economy when the airforce goes. What does (Mayor) Curtis think we should do to replace that. Run a raffle?

“Leaders in the Auckland region should support what is best for the whole region, they should want to see strategic assets delivering benefits to ratepayers, and they should be in favour of competition, choice and more convenient options for air travelers.

“Sir Barry would never vote to demolish Mangere airport to build houses, and it is arrogant nonsense for him to suggest we should do that at Whenuapai.”

Mayor Harvey says that when the airport was moved to Mangere 50 years ago, civic leaders of the time had the foresight not to close Whenuapai. “Now, half a century on that wisdom is going to pay dividends. It’s unbelievable that Manukau isn’t looking to the future.”

Mr Harvey says that Manukau’s view that a second airport is not needed is baseless.

“In (airport partners) Infratil we have one of the most efficient airport operators in the world. They are prepared to back the Whenuapai option because it makes economic sense. But (Mayor) Curtis and his Council think they know better that one of the best airport operators around.”

“The reason Sir Barry and Mangere airport are running scared is that they know a commercial airport at Whenuapai will succeed, and they want to kill it at birth and continue a monopoly that increasingly can’t deliver what they region needs.”

Mr Harvey also counters the claim that the proposed second runway at Auckland will serve the region for the next 50 years.

“You could have 10 runways there- but we’d still be battling for hours to get to them.” He adds that millions of dollars will need to be spent to get passengers to Mangere.

“Using their own growth projections there will be millions of dollars of work needed at the Puhinui Intersection, Montgomery Ave, Kirkbride Rd and others around the airport. And who will be paying for that? It certainly won’t be (Mayor) Curtis and his Council. It will be the long suffering taxpayers of the rest of Auckland.”

Mr Harvey says it is ironic that Sir Barry Curtis is seeking support from other Mayors and Councils for his “hugely unpopular and grandiose” Eastern Corridor scheme costing billers of dollars of public money - “yet when someone else tries to do something with 100% private enterprise funding they are bagged for it”.

“Manukau should concentrate on their own problems.”


Fast facts:

The Airforce will vacate Whenuapai within 5 years

Cabinet is due to make a decision on future uses in April

A recent poll shows that just 13% of Auckland residents oppose the idea

More than half a million people live within a 16km radius of Whenuapai- roughly the same number within 16km of Mangere

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