Residents, motorists and houses near Queenstown Airport have been lashed with dirt by departing planes this week.
One Frankton home-owner claims “it’s like living in Saudi Arabia in a dust storm”. The problem is caused by eastward departing flights blasting loose soil from the end of the runway across Kawarau Road and into neighbouring properties.
“I’ve never seen it like this. I’m sure it’s because of the new construction there.”
A new jet blast fence – officially unveiled on December 6 – has been built at the end of the runway and left loose earth to be whipped up by outgoing jets.
Ironically, the fence was built to “shield vehicles and pedestrians from any jet blast”, according to a recent press release.
Another resident Yuki Watanabe lives directly opposite the fence and says her house – with all the windows open – filled with dust on Sunday.
One child playing in the yard started crying because “the dust got in his eyes”.
The problem continued on Monday until she complained to the airport, which started using fire engines to hose down the dirt.
“After I talked with the airport manager they started watering,” Watanabe says.
Queenstown Airport Corporation’s aeronautical general manager Chris Read says grass seed has been sown at the end of the runway, but the dry conditions have generated dust.
“QAC has now put out irrigation lines and rescue fire trucks are wetting down the area every morning and before each flight to promote the grass growth,” Read says.