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Whenuapai Deception

Press Release - 19 April 2004

Whenuapai Deception

Waitakere City Councils (WCC) second commercial airport proposal at Whenuapai was significantly rejected by 75% of the submissions to the NZ Defence Force in January. The Auckland Regional Growth Forum also rejected this same proposal in February. Recently Waitakere City and Infratil have been attempting to reignite their proposal for Whenuapai as a second commercial airport for the Auckland Region.

Without much support from other local authorities WCC argues the case for duplication of airport facilities at Whenuapai with claims that it will save the Auckland region $341 million in future transport costs. Such claim is based on rather dubious calculations.

While some Auckland residents will have a shorter journey to a Whenuapai airport than to Mangere others residents from other parts of the Auckland region will have a longer journey to catch a flight if low cost carriers operate out of Whenuapai rather than from Mangere.

With a significant number of passengers also probably wanting to change flights between Whenuapai and Mangere the increase in road traffic across Auckland will in fact worsen current traffic congestion and will cost the Auckland Region more money through increased inefficiencies. Any suggestion that a commercial airport at Whenuapai will ease traffic congestion is simply an illusion.

The only solution to traffic delays to and from Auckland International Airport at Mangere is the completion of Auckland's Motorway System. Duplication of significant infrastructure by creating a second airport at Whenuapai is a waste of money and not in the interest of the Auckland Region.

The duplication of the Upper Harbour Bridge and construction of a new Motorway (SH18) from Albany to Westgate to connect with the North Western motorway is already well underway and will be completed by 2008.

The extension of the South Western Motorway (SH20) from Onehunga to Avondale to connect with the North Western motorway at Waterview is due for completion by 2008\2009. Both of these projects are being given the highest priority for construction and completion by Transit New Zealand.

The Air Force has stated many times that it will take at least 5 years for them to complete their shift from Whenuapai to Ohakea and they are not able to operate on a joint military \ commercial basis at Whenuapai in the meantime.

Therefore these new motorways will be completed before Whenuapai becomes available for a commercial airport and they will provide a fast and continuous motorway access for North Shore, West Auckland and outer region residents direct to Mangere Airport. Transit NZ Engineers predict that airport travel times for North Shore and West Auckland residents will reduce by 20-30 minutes and that there are unlikely to be peak time delays at all.

WCC has failed to mention in any of its propaganda that by the time Whenuapai airbase is actually vacated and available for commercial operations in 5 years time, that the current (peak time) traffic access problems to Mangere will be history.

In the meantime, in desperation the keep their proposal alive WCC / Infratil have increased their campaign to win-over the public and politicians to accept their unneeded second airport with their biggest deception to date … the TNS Survey. The survey was conducted in March this year by telephone and introduced the subject as `a survey regarding traffic congestion'.

The first 8 questions related to the present traffic delays around Auckland. Traffic delays obviously affect many people and are bound to get peoples attention. It is therefore logical that most of the people surveyed would have had a predicable response to these questions and would be in favour of improvements to Auckland's Motorway system. We all want this.

The survey then focused on airport travel times and asked a series of questions about distance and length of time taken to travel to Mangere Airport and concerns regarding any peak time delays.

The survey results show that it takes North Shore and West Auckland residents on average 31-45 minutes to travel to Mangere. This is not an unduly long travel time to a city airport compared with other cities in the world. The survey then bundled the Auckland Motorway traffic issues at peak time with the Airport travel issue at peak time and came up with a 59% total in favour of a second airport at Whenuapai. Given the lead in with the unrelated questions regarding traffic congestion around Auckland it is not unexpected the survey result turned out the way it did.

However, the people who were being questioned during the survey were not told that before Whenuapai becomes available for commercial airport operations, in 5 years time, the new motorway extensions via Upper Harbour and South Western Motorways linking Mangere to the North Western, would have already been completed.

Clearly WCC is unjustifiably using current motorway traffic problems in Auckland at peak times in a desperate attempt to some gain support for its second commercial airport at Whenuapai in 5 years time.

The TNS survey results are therefore biased because the respondents were emotionally coached and not properly informed about the new motorway developments at the time the questions were asked.

We expect that the Government, ARC Transport Planning Engineers and other Regional Transport Strategy Consultants will see the distorted and biased results that the TNS Survey has obtained and will ignore the survey accordingly.

Roger Hadfield
Chartered Accountant
Spokesperson for Waag

Editors note:
The Whenuapai Airport Action Group (Waag) is the appointed representatives of the Resident and Ratepayer Associations of the communities of Whenuapai, Herald Island, Greenhithe and Paremoremo.
Refer www.waag.co.nz

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