It has long been accepted that the Central Otago region needs more airport infrastructure to keep pace with its growth.
This has been looked at multiple times over the last 30 years.
A new regional airport would deliver much-needed safe and efficient connectivity for the region for the next 50+ years.
Demand for air connectivity in Central Otago will continue to grow.
Central Otago’s residents have a high propensity to travel, and its economy is reliant on the ability to move people and products efficiently.
In addition, the aviation networks that feed Central Otago are forecasting growth.
Around 75-80% of the passengers that fly into Central Otago come from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland Airports.
These airports are preparing for their overall passenger numbers to double by 2040.
Auckland plans to build a second runway, a new airport is being built in Western Sydney, Brisbane Airport has built a second runway, and Melbourne Airport is planning a third runway.
This growth is expected to see people seeking to fly to and from Central Otago increase too.
Restricting air services into Queenstown is likely to mean more visitors will arrive by road.
Existing airports inability to provide a solution
Queenstown Airport serves its community well but it can’t meet the region’s long-term needs.
It faces two key constraints that prevent it from scaling up:
Queenstown Airport has said it does not have enough space within its current airfield and terminal infrastructure to grow capacity in long term.
Queenstown Airport is subject to noise restrictions that limit the number of scheduled aircraft movements it can operate each year.
Wānaka Airport sits close to an area of significant population. This constrains its ability to deliver the aviation capacity that Central Otago will need in the very long-term.
Dunedin and Invercargill airports serve their local populations well but are 2-3 hours’ drive from Central Otago and, being close to sea level, are vulnerable to inundation from climate change in the future.
Utilising them will increase road traffic and carbon emissions. Most visitors will have to fly past where they need to get to and then drive for hours to their destination.
A new regional airport is the most efficient way to meet Central Otago’s long-term needs.