Now aero club in the ejector seat

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Not content with grabbing back 10 hectares off Frankton golf course, Queenstown Airport now wants Wakatipu Aero Club to up sticks. 

The disclosure comes in Queenstown Airport Corp-oration minutes, calling WAC “an impediment to our Master Plan”. 

Club president Peter Daniell broke from preparations for its 40th birthday celebrations tomorrow to explain what’s going on. 

“Airfields used to be about planes taking off and landing – now it’s how many supermarkets can you put on it,” he says. 

“They’d certainly like us to move from the site we currently occupy and, in fairness, we understand and we’re sympathetic … but disappointed we have to move.” 

Daniell says WAC owns its member-built clubhouse and QAC charges them about $12,500 for the annual ground lease – a 75 per cent discount. 

“QAC do support us extensively in regards to the rent,” he says. 

The airport company wants WAC to move twice – first to the old Mount Cook Airline social club site near Remarkables Park, then again to a “Master Plan” site on the Five Mile side of the main runway. 

Daniell says his 80-member club is happy to pay for infrastructure, perhaps even a new building, at the final site but wants QAC to pay for the short-term move – a cost of about $100,000. 

That’s where negotiations stand, Daniell says. 

“QAC currently supports us well and we’d like to hope that that’s an ongoing thing,” he adds. 

“We’d be very, very disappointed if we got dicked.” 

Yet there’s a David-and-Goliath undertone, Daniell confesses. 

“We feel very insecure in the fact that they’re a very powerful organisation who seem to be able to rubber-stamp something overnight without anybody else being involved.” 

WAC would fight, Daniell promises. 

“We’d have nothing to lose and we’d fight till the bitter end – but I don’t think it’s a road QAC would choose to go down,” Daniell says.