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It’s Time For Action On Whenuapai

Regional Support Means It’s Time For Action On Whenuapai

It is now time for action to get commercial flights in and out of Whenuapai as soon as possible.

Bryan Mogridge, who heads Waitakere City’s Mayoral Taskforce on the future of the airbase, says that the regional report (released today), which concludes that it should be retained for airport use, is the only logical outcome.

He says the City, which has entered into an agreement with airport operator Infratil to develop the facility if it becomes available, is now ready to work with the government to make the project a reality.

“We have had two years of discussion, expert reports, public consultation and debate. At every turn the airport option is the only logical outcome and this latest report, again, comes to that conclusion. The aviation industry is notoriously fickle and the longer that this drags on the less viable it might become. So the time to move forward is now. ”

Mr Mogridge says that in the two years since the government announced it would shift RNZAF operations to Ohakea, discussion and research had demonstrated a number of key points

The joint officials group drawn from the region's councils had concluded that a second commercial airport at Waitakere is the only option in line with national, regional objectives and strategies, and could contribute a range of benefits to the region.

Commercialisation of the base would go long way towards mitigating some $250 million a year lost from the Waitakere City economy as a result of the RNZAF leaving.

An airport operation at Whenuapai compliments newly established ferry services from West Harbour to Auckland’s CBD which in turn maximizes both public and private investment in areas such as Westhaven and the Viaduct.

There is substantial support for the concept of a commercial airport from various Auckland councils (including North Shore and Rodney), their business development agencies, business generally, Civil Defense and the public.

A commercial airport at Whenuapai should be progressed swiftly, while airlines are keen to discuss their participation. There is potential for major wealth and job creation in the region’s north-west, providing a boost to local tourism, and greatly improved access to a commercial airport for more than half of the region's population.

Regional transport benefits have been calculated at $341 million.

There would be only a very minor impact on Auckland International Airport’s monopoly operation at Mangere

Mr Mogridge acknowledged the concerns of local residents about potential noise, but says these would be addressed through resource consents applications which would be required before commercial flights could commence.

“We have had two years of talk. We need to engage now in the commercial discussions and negotiations needed to get this airport up and running as soon as possible.

The consequence of further delays could be that a valuable piece of infrastructure, with the potential to produce so many favorable outcomes, ends up simply rotting away over the next decade.”

“Everyone in the region will be a loser if that happens. The time for action is now.”

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