Pattrick Smellie at Stuff writes:
When the canon of lost causes is examined in the future, somewhere near the top of the list for Wellington will be the local airport’s weird campaign for a longer runway. …
Despite a lot of local booster-ism to the contrary, the value of direct connections to Asia and North America from this country’s third largest city is very difficult to discern, unless you happen to be an airport shareholder. …
The most comprehensive assessment of the runway extension’s prospects was produced earlier this year, after a suspiciously long gestation period, by accounting firm EY.
The airport trumpeted the result as showing “the direct economic benefit to the Wellington region, between 2020 and 2060, will be up to $684m in today’s dollars”.
That’s not just a rubber number. It’s meaningless. If such flimsy analysis were produced as a business case for the Infratil board, it would either be laughed out of the room or there would be no Infratil in very short order.
Broken down into actual flight numbers, the EY report says this: a runway extension might be worth between two and five long haul flights a day in 46 years’ time. Say what!?
If the shareholders of the airport company want to invest $300 million into the airport extension, they should go for it.
There is an arguable case for a modest contribution from the City Council on the basis of increased economic activity in Wellington.
There is no real case for a contribution from the Government, as I can’t see an extension leading to extra flights to NZ – just that some will come direct to Wellington instead of Auckland and Christchurch.Tags: Pattrick Smellie, Wellington Airport