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Regional airports optimistic about Ardern-Peters coalition

Regional airports optimistic about Ardern-Peters coalition


Regional airports across New Zealand are hopeful that supportive party statements about airport infrastructure and air services will make it into the coalition policy agenda, according to the New Zealand Airports Association (NZ Airports).

During the election period NZ Airports ran the FlyLocal NZ campaign in regional electorates urging voters to message candidates in support of equitable funding for smaller airports across the country.

“Our FlyLocal NZ campaign was non-partisan and we enjoyed a constructive relationship with the former National government,” said NZ Airports chief executive Kevin Ward.

“However, early on the NZ Labour Party expressed interest in working with us after the Election, and NZ First transport policy announcements closely aligned with our campaign to secure a sustainable future for local airports”.

“Labour leader – and now Prime Minister designate - Jacinda Ardern even retweeted one of our campaign memes, which boosted the campaign profile hugely. NZ First leader Winston Peters made a very supportive policy statement at an Election meeting in Gisborne,” said Mr Ward.

“During the election campaign, we briefed both the Labour and NZ First parties about the need for central government funding for regional airport upkeep and regional air route support. Both parties have a good level of awareness and understanding that we hope will make its way into the discussions around policy.”

“Regular air services depend on good airport standards such as well-maintained runways and airfield lighting. Our campaign is seeking sustainable funding for local airports, and a consistent minimum standard across NZ.

NZ Airports identified airports across the country that are reliant on local government funding, especially to meet growth demands and high safety standards.

“Local councils support their airports willingly because of the importance of air links, but many of them have small ratepayer bases and many competing demands for core services. Being part of the national air transport network shouldn’t have to rely on hard-pressed local funding.

“Air links are essential to regional economic growth, jobs, social cohesion, and disaster response. In the regions a trip for specialised medical care is often by air ambulance. It is the most efficient way to deliver health services nationwide, and the district health boards depend on air links.

“We look forward to engaging with the new ministers of transport and regional development in coming weeks to ensure the playing field is levelled between government-funded road and rail and the funding gap for small regional airports,” said Mr Ward.

Further details of the FlyLocal NZ campaign can be found at the campaign website flylocal.nz.

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