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Kapiti Airport CEO Met With Minister Of Transport, Outlined Failing Economics Of Small, Underutilised Airport

The CEO of Kāpiti Coast Airport met Transport Minister Michael Wood recently to discuss the challenges of operating the small aerodrome in the heart of Paraparaumu.

“It was a very constructive meeting in which we outlined our financial position and dwindling number of commercial flights at the airport,” chief executive Chris Simpson said.

“We think the Minister appreciated our situation and the ongoing challenges we’re facing.”

Mr Simpson said the Kāpiti region was growing rapidly with huge demand for housing and associated infrastructure, yet residents were choosing not to fly via the airport.

The local economy grew 0.3% in the year to March 2021, and employment was up 1.8% in the past year, while the Council issued 57 new residential building consents in the March quarter.

“This is good for the region, but our passenger numbers are far too low to run a viable airport. Fewer than 200 fee paying passengers use the airport each week which is less than 0.5 per cent of the Kāpiti population. We recognise that people like the ‘idea’ of a local airport, but the fact remains that 99.5 per cent of the population aren’t using it and we are beginning to feel like the Yellow Pages – wanted and expected but not really used.”

Mr Simpson said the Airport hadn’t recovered from Air New Zealand’s withdrawal in 2018 and it was now losing about $1.2 million a year from operating the airport and would need to invest up to $5 million to upgrade the runway by 2025.

“There’s so much going on in Kāpiti and we want to contribute in a meaningful way, however, Kāpiti people aren’t using the airport.”

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