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Strong support for runway extension

6 March 2013

Strong support for runway extension

Upper Hutt mayor Wayne Guppy offers strong support for a proposed extension of the Wellington airport runway as a critical step in realising the economic potential for the region.

The proposed extension, from its current 2,000m length to 2,300m, would accommodate long haul flights both to and from Asia, adding lucrative capacity to the busy commercial terminus. In addition to commercial freight, the extension could expect an increase in both Asian and European tourism, which could see an expected increase of $44 million per year, and over 300 jobs created in the sector. Better exposure to the lucrative international student market could further contribute another $70 million a year in regional benefits and another 1,200 jobs.

The current runway can accommodate the arrival of some larger aircraft but is not long enough for them to take-off with a full load, hindering the economic viability of these operations.

“Over a number of years one of the issues that continually arise is that the Wellington region is severely disadvantaged by not having a truly international airport and direct flights from Wellington into Asia and onto the rest of the world. The regional economic benefit for long haul flights to Asia with connections to Europe is very clear for everyone to see.” says Mayor Guppy. “A direct air service to Asia is arguably the most significant thing the Wellington region can do to realise its economic potential. As the seat of government, a global financial centre, a location for international events, and a widely recognised leisure destination; there is significant scope to increase international visitors through improved connectivity.”

Mayor Guppy is calling for a collective agreement to pursue the investment required to enable the extension. It is estimated that it would cost $1 million per metre of the extension of the Lyall Bay runway, and it is expected that an additional 300 metres would be required to enable large aircraft to both arrive and take-off with a maximum load; an investment Mayor Guppy suggests would be returned through on-going economic benefit throughout the Wellington Region.

“The economic benefit for the region makes the runway extension highly viable from a cost benefit perspective and is likely to be a project that would justify both private and public funding. Certainly if the private sector contributed and the public sector serviced a loan we are only looking at approximately $10M per year to service roughly a $200M loan. I say it is time now not to continue talking, but let’s make this happen for the future of the Wellington region.”

Mayor Guppy hopes that other Mayors from the region, who attended the recent briefing by the Wellington International Airport as part of the Wellington Regional Strategy, will join him in his support.

ENDS

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