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Right of reply: Wellington Airport CEO responds to 'inaccuracies' regarding runway extension proposal

"Our research shows the case for a runway extension is compelling," insists Steve Sanderson.

Steve Sanderson
Sat, 03 Dec 2016

NBR’s online article, Wellington Airport’s runway extension ambitions not a flier – poll, featured several inaccuracies so it’s important we set the record straight.

Firstly, the EY report referenced in the article has been superseded by a Cost Benefit Analysis from Sapere showing $2.3 billion in net benefits for the country. Direct long haul flights for central New Zealand will provide businesses and residents better connectivity and make our educational institutions and tourism offering more accessible.

Furthermore, the independent report by the Greater Welllington Regional Council and Wellington City as part of their review on the application for consent  conclude the runway extension is likely to provide a significant economic benefit to the Wellington economy.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to your readers that Air New Zealand is opposed to this project. Their position is purely based on their own commercial considerations. Don’t be fooled by their ‘we love Wellington’ routine.  Their business model is based on a single New Zealand international hub in Auckland which excludes both Wellington and Christchurch.

In fact, our research shows the case for a runway extension is compelling. The long-haul market is strong and has grown by well over 60% in the last five years. Analysis by leading route development experts InterVISTAS has shown that Wellington already has viable long haul routes.

Wellington International Airport has annually close to 1m international passengers with recent growth of 16%. Data from the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment shows international tourism spend directly in the Wellington region alone was $774M last year and has been growing considerably.

Since the recent introduction of the Wellington-Singapore flights, many travel agents in Singapore have begun developing itineraries that now include Wellington so they consider there is development potential for the region and the New Zealand economy.

There is still a long way to go, but we have been buoyed by the considerable support for this proposal with the business community, tertiary and education institutes, tourism organisations, the creative and film sector and individuals all submitting on the benefits they see for the region. We do of course recognise there are a wide variety of views on the project.

A runway extension allowing long haul connections is vital infrastructure the city, the greater Wellington region and indeed Central New Zealand needs for both economic growth and its resilience.

Steve Sanderson is the chief executive of Wellington International Airport

Steve Sanderson
Sat, 03 Dec 2016
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Right of reply: Wellington Airport CEO responds to 'inaccuracies' regarding runway extension proposal