Michael Reddell blogs:
I dealt with the visitor number points in this post late last year. The WIAL cost-benefit analysis uses passenger projections which assume an increase of 200000 visitors to New Zealand (building up over time) simply because it becomes physically possible to fly long haul into Wellington. That seems implausible. In his own look at the passenger projections, Ian Harrison of Tailrisk Economics, noted that the numbers assumed that within 20 years 30000 more Americans a year will come to New Zealand simply because they can fly directly into Wellington. One can imagine a few more might want to arrive via Wellington, but is it really credible that so many more will come to New Zealand as a whole? Perhaps more startling were the assumptions for “other Asia” (ie other than China and Japan). At present, only around 30000 people come from those countries to Wellington in a year. The projections assume that putting in a runway allowing long-haul flights will provide a boost of an additional 105000 visitors annually within 20 years. Were Wellington Florence, perhaps it would be a credible story. As it is – and even with some more marketing spending and a heavily subsidized new film museum – it just doesn’t ring true. Long-haul passengers don’t come to New Zealand for its cities – the cities are mostly gateways, and in the case of the lower North Island, Wellington isn’t the gateway to much. (And yes, I can see the South Island as I type, so perhaps there is a small “gateway to the South, by slow ferry” market).
So a 400 metre runway extension will lead to a 350% increase in people choosing to visit Wellington, from Asian countries (excluding China and Japan).
This is why it is essential that local Councils commission independent advice on the benefits.