Wellington Airport submits consent application for runway extension

Stuff reports:

has submitted resource consent applications to extend its runway, which could allow long haul flights to land in the capital.

Planners sent the application, which is more than 5000 pages long, to the Wellington City Council and the Greater Wellington Regional Council on Thursday afternoon.

The councils will now check the application to see whether additional information is required. According to the airport, the application could be publicly notified by June.

The airport wants the application to be heard by the Environment Court as soon as possible. That could potentially clear the way for construction starting in 2018.

Wellington Airport is 66 per cent owned by NZX-listed infrastructure company Infratil, with the balance owned by the Wellington City Council.

I’m all for extending the runway. But the vast majority of the cost should be borne by the owners of the airport, in approximate proportion to their share-holdings.

The application seeks permission to extend the runway by 354 metres. Funding for the project, which is estimated to cost $300 million, has not been secured, with the airport indicating it wants financial input both from local, regional and central government.

So far the National Government has said it is “unlikely” that it would contribute funds towards the project, with Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce questioning why a subsidy is needed, given Infratil’s profitability.

There is only a case for a Government contribution if they are convinced that having a longer runway in Wellington will lead to more people deciding to visit New Zealand. I can’t imagine there is a single person out there who will decide to come to NZ because they could now fly direct to Wellington. Maybe a few public servants in Australia?

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