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Councils Unite For Whenuapai Airport

October 26, 2006

Councils Unite For Whenuapai Airport

It’s full steam ahead for a joint military/civilian airport at Whenuapai.

Today Rodney District Council voted unanimously to join with neighbouring Waitakere and North Shore Cities, and international airport operator Infratil, to form an Airport Company to progress the proposal.

The Government has announced that the RNZAF will move its operation from Whenuapai to Ohakea within the next 10 years. The new North West Airport Company Limited will now push for joint civilian and military use of Whenuapai in the sort to medium term, which will see domestic flights and travel to and from Australia and the Pacific Islands.

Mayor Bob Harvey says that airports are “economic hubs” which provide thousands of jobs and inject millions of dollars into local economies.

“Whenuapai is already a fully functioning airport with hundreds of military flights every year. But it is under utilised. There are many examples here in New Zealand and overseas where military operations run side by side with commercial flights and forming this airport company means that this option can be fully explored.”

Mr Harvey says as well as economic benefits for the North West of the region commercial flights at Whenuapai will bring airline competition and cheaper travel.

He also points out that with 500,000 people living within 15km of Whenuapai it is much more convenient for thousands of travellers.

“And with the Auckland Region promoting itself as a ‘world-class’ city, it’s a little ironic that it is the only such city to have just one airport.”

A poll taken across the Auckland Region and released last week shows that overall 53% of people support the idea of commercial air services running at Whenuapai as soon as possible, compared to 15% who oppose the idea.

The main reasons for supporting the concept are:

- Better access (18%)
- Facing less traffic congestion (10%)
-Cheaper airfares (11%)

Three major business seminars held in the North West (Waitakere and Rodney) last year also endorsed the concept of commencing commercial flights at Whenuapai as soon as possible.

ENDS.

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