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The businessman who spent millions developing Kāpiti airport and attracting Air New Zealand to fly there from Auckland says he's disappointed at the carrier's decision to scrap the service.
Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller
Air New Zealand announced last week that it would pull out of its daily Auckland service from Paraparaumu - giving just three weeks notice.
Sir Noel Robinson was the original owner of the airport and invested $15m in its upgrade, ultimately getting the national carrier to establish the service.
Sir Noel said he worked very closely with Air New Zealand at the time and they had a positive relationship.
Todd Property Group are now the majority owners of the airport company, and Air New Zealand is 52 percent owned by the government.
When the route was established the target loading was around 60-65 percent, Sir Noel said.
The airport also had a secondary function as a back-up for Wellington airport in case of a major earthquake or natural disaster.
Sir Noel said that, as far as he knows, the route has over 85 percent loading and is profitable, in a region which is expected to grow by a fifth in the next two decades, and where a major new expressway from Wellington is under construction.
"Transmission Gully is one of the most underrated thing's that's going to happen in Wellington. It'll make Kāpiti a suberb of Wellington," he said.
Sir Noel said that businesses that were looking at moving out to Kāpiti will be put off by Air New Zealand ending its route at the airport.
He said that with the route gone, there is now a huge risk the airport will be turned over to housing.