Infrastructure critical to airport growth – boss


Queenstown Airport bosses say while predicted growth figures are “pretty exciting”, ensuring adequate infrastructure across the district to support it is critical.

Chairman John Gilks and acting chief executive Mark Edghill spoke to the airport’s draft statement of intent at a full Queenstown Lakes District Council meeting in Wanaka on Thursday afternoon.

Within it, the airport reported growth figures indicated passenger numbers were expected to grow at a rate of 5.8 per cent per annum and long-range forecasts predicted domestic passengers would double and international passengers almost treble by 2026.

Gilks says one of the key aspects of managing that growth was continuing to engage with the council, businesses and residential communities.

“It’s all very well to have these growth figures … but we’ve got to make sure this is what the community wants and we have got to take the community with us.

“We have been consulting and we’ve got to do more of it.

“There are increasing numbers but have we got the parking … hotel beds, infrastructure generally to support all of this?

“A very important [co-ordinated] effort has got to go on here.”

Edghill says the airport is working on its 30-year master plan, which will help the board understand “capacity requirements”.

“Going forward, a big part of that is transport [and] car parking.”

Cr Alexa Forbes asked the representatives what, if anything, the airport company was doing to address travellers who were parking on State Highway 6.

Edghill says travellers’ decision to park on the highway was “probably mostly driven by price, as opposed to an inability to find a park”.

“That’s something that needs to be looked at in broader terms.”

Gilks says the airport had been using the former Wakatipu Aero Club during peak periods for overflow parking and it had plans to do that again.

It was also working on traffic flow within the airport precinct to further assist, Gilks says.

“We are doing whatever we can in the short term and we have got a long-term plan as well.”

The council received the airport’s draft statement of intent, with the final version to be adopted by the council by June 30.

– Otago Daily Times