Cap on Milford flight operators to be lifted

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Milford flight operators who feared being squeezed out by a cap on aircraft landings can breathe a sigh of relief.

The Government today (Wednesday) announced that the cap – introduced under the 2007 Fiordland National Park Management Plan – will be removed.

The cap was designed to manage the adverse effects of too much aircraft activity in a sensitive environment.

However it meant a number of historic Milford Aerodrome users faced being put out of business.

In a statement today, conservation minister Kate Wilkinson said: “An arbitrary cap on landings is a blunt instrument that unfortunately could have put air operators out of business, without actually addressing the impacts of the activity on the environment.

“It was also unnecessary, as the weather acts as a natural cap.

“Records show flight landings have not reached 9000 for the past nine years, as the weather means aircraft can only fly on roughly 200-250 days each year.

“Department of Conservation will now work with the tourism and local aviation industry on the best ways to reduce noise levels, including developing a code of management and monitoring regime.”

DoC will now reconsider applications, Wilkinson says.

The Government’s decision has been welcomed by the Tourism Industry Association.

“We have always believed that a cap on the number of landings was a blunt instrument to manage an issue that was more related to the way aircraft operate rather than the number of flights,” TIA advocacy manager Geoff Ensor says.