Costly Extensions

Letter from the DomPost outlining the cheap lessons that could be learnt from recent history. Not covered in the letter is Palmerston North, which proposed a runway but didn’t construct before international airlines pulled out.

New Zealand has a long history of ill-conceived airport extensions which have lost large sums of money.

Invercargill extended its run-way in 2005 to attract trans-Tasman flights, which never eventuated.

Hamilton Airport decided to extend its runway to allow 777 and 787 aircraft to land, but lost its final international carrier in 2010, fortunately before any money was spent.

The most egregious example of reckless extensions in New Zealand is Rotorual Airport, which spent more than $40 million extending its runway, based on a consultant’s report suggesting the new runway would attract up to 15 trans-tasman flights weekly. It never had more than two flights weekly for which Air New Zealand received a subsidy of $1m a year.

There are no longer any international nights into Rotorua and the airport is still deeply indebted.

Even Australia is not exempt from this foolishness. In 2006 Canberra Airport spent more than $300m on runway and terminal expansions to position itself as “Sydney’s second airport”.

It has had not one international passenger flight since then, until the announcement of Singapore Airlines’ Wellington-
Canberra Singapore service, to start in September.

History suggests Wellington’s Airport is heading for a financial disaster.


Mt Victoria

This guy has a good summary of reading on the Airport extension:

There’ll be a whole lot of spin at the official ‘Connect Wellington’ website, too.


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