Queenstown mayor Jim Boult is convinced a mooted Tarras airport won’t fly.
David Mayhew, chairman of Queenstown’s Kelvin Peninsula Community Association (KPCA), proposes closing the resort’s Frankton airport, leaving Wanaka Airport as it is and developing an international airport in Central Otago, possibly at Tarras.
Boult asks why anyone would want to drive one-and-a-half hours back and forth from Queenstown to Tarras “on icy roads in the middle of winter, through the gorge”.
“If you’re going to build an airport that’s an hour-and-a-half away, you’ve got a perfectly good one – it’s two hours away, in Invercargill.”
Boult says a more important issue is the funding for a new airport.
An aviation consultant he spoke to this week suggested a “wet finger in the air” figure of about $2 billion.
“Where’s that going to come from?”
Boult notes there have been “umpteen” ideas for alternative airport locations, like Queenstown Hill, Jardine’s land below the Remarkables and northern Southland.
Each time, he says there’ve been good reasons why those other sites aren’t better than Frankton.
Mayhew says his idea’s blue sky thinking.
Boult: “I don’t see blue sky at all because it’s been thought about before.
“I call it murky thinking.”
Meanwhile, Boult says pressure would come off Frankton’s airport if Wanaka’s was developed as a domestic airport to handle the 400,000 Upper Clutha-generated passenger movements that currently go through Queenstown Airport.
KPCA and Frankton Community Association are hosting a public meeting, entitled ‘Frankton Without the Airport?’ this coming Monday at Remarkables Primary School, 8pm.