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Report: What a $400m spend for Wanaka Airport really means


Report: What a $400m spend for Wanaka Airport really means

A new independent report into the underlying financials of the proposed expansion of Wanaka Airport has been released this afternoon. The report shows that the proposed spend of $400m would require one passenger jet to take off and land every 10 minutes if the industry standard investment return is to be realised.

Working with publicly available data from five other airports in New Zealand and Australia, the report concludes that Wanaka Airport would require a flow of 3.14 million passenger movements each year. This equates to approx 26,200 landings and take-offs per year.

This is based on landing window of 12 hours a day, and spread over 52 weeks which results in seventy two flights per day - one flight every 10 minutes. Extend the flying window to 16 hours a day, and there would need to be a flight every 13 minutes. The reports author noted that his analysis may even "understate the ambitions" of QAC which has confirmed its commitment to “grow QAC’s business returns and increase passenger numbers”, in particular leveraging “the scale and connectivity of a multi-airport relationship to grow visitor activity and deliver superior earnings growth [...]"

Michael Ross, Chair of Wanaka Stakeholders Group, said that these numbers are "revealing". "We've known for some time that the proposed $400m investment would require the development of a very busy airport with huge throughput in order to provide reasonable returns to shareholders. This report puts brings those numbers to life," he said.

Mr Ross said that the community must be given the opportunity to understand "the magnitude and potential impact" of QAC's and the Council's plans. "If it were to proceed, this proposed investment would have a significant impact on both the Upper Clutha and Queenstown communities - far greater than has been disclosed to date. It's time that the real scale of this investment was discussed, honestly, with the communities it will impact. People need to know that once this airport becomes jet-capable, there is no option left to the community to restrict flight numbers: this would be out of our hands entirely and the genie will be out of the bottle for good."

Mr Ross said that the Wanaka Stakeholders Group, which represents nearly 3,000 members, would be asking "plenty of questions" in the coming days on behalf of its members and the community.

The report is available here: https://protectwanaka.nz/2019/09/09/report-what-a-400m-spend-for-wanaka-airport-really-looks-like/

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