Can Wellington Airport be moved?

David Farrar

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The Dom Post reports:

A proposal to relocate Wellington Airport to a site on the hills north of Newlands is worth investigating, Greater Wellington Regional Council chairwoman Fran Wilde says.

The relocation, which has been labelled an “exciting” idea by Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee, has been proposed by Wellington property investor Richard Burrell, who said a completely new airport with a longer runway would have major economic advantages for the region.

It would take a lot of pressure off Wellington City’s roading network and do away with the need for expensive roadworks, including a second Mt Victoria tunnel and more than $300 million that is needed to extend the current airport’s runway.

Mr Burrell said surveyors and engineers had assessed a proposal to put an airport with a 2.4 kilometre runway – able to handle long-haul flights – on farmland at Hunters Hill, between Newlands and Grenada North.

The costings for a new 120ha airport came to about $750 million, far less than the estimated $1.1 billion needed to improve road links to Wellington Airport and to extend the runway.

When I saw the headline, I thought moving the airport is nuts. But if a new airport would cost less than extending the current runway, worth looking at.

If the current Wellington Airport was closed, the land could be sold off for housing and the net effect would be that Wellington would get a better airport with an all-up capital saving of around $500m, Mr Burrell said.

Would be good to be able to get into Wellington from the airport without going through the Mt Vic tunnel.

Mr Brownlee gave his qualified support. “It’s very exciting that someone has had an idea for a new airport, especially as when the private sector comes up with plans of this nature they tend to be fully funded.

However, “the Government has no intention of helping fund a new airport on the hills above Newlands”.

Hopefully that also means the Government won’t help fund extending the runway either.

Political commentator David Farrar posts at Kiwiblog.

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