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One step closer to airport study

One step closer to airport study

For immediate release: Wednesday 9 June 2004 An in-depth study into the viability of a regional airport for the Bay of Plenty moved a step closer yesterday.

Environment Bay of Plenty’s regional development committee studied the first draft of the Terms of Reference for the next stage of investigation at a meeting in Whakatane on Tuesday. Staff will now incorporate comments made by territorial authorities and take an amended copy to the committee’s next meeting on July 15.

After that, the final draft will be presented to a special gathering of the region’s councils, with the study likely to be commissioned soon after. It will cover the risks and benefits of a single domestic airport in the region, its commercial viability and location.

Regional development committee chairman Athole Herbert says consulting with councils with airports in their sub-regions is “an important consideration” for the regional council. “We are aware of their concerns and feel that this research is important to the region as a whole. It is a high level planning exercise. Even if a regional airport was feasible, it is not likely to be operating for 20 to 25 years, but we need to plan for the future. The regional council must provide leadership and vision.”

Auckland consultant McGregor and Company completed the first stage of the study in late 2002. It researched the Bay of Plenty’s current air transport infrastructure of three local airports in Tauranga, Rotorua and Whakatane.

McGregor and Company’s report concluded that, while all three airports could continue to support air transport services for many years, “the question was whether they should”. None of the airports was commercially viable, if the cost of capital was taken into account, and all faced key unique challenges.

For further media information please contact Cr Athole Herbert on 07 575 6682 or John Mandemaker, group manager strategic policy on 0800 368 267. R/media releases/040608ac.doc

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