Process & Timelines
This project is about exploring the creation of an airport which would be up there with the most sustainable in the world.
We want to ensure our project would deliver a new airport for Central Otago that is world-class and benefits from informed decision-making, so we have committed to conducting thorough and robust investigations.
This includes looking at every element of airport operations, its relationship with surrounding infrastructure, and investigating potential impacts on the community and environment.
This is a long-term project.
There is no fixed date for opening - in fact, we have a lot of work to do before we get to those sorts of decisions.
At this stage, we estimate it’s likely to take around three years to plan and explore the feasibility of the airport, another three years to get the required approvals, and around three years to construct it.
Doing the work to get through each gateway is critical. An airport cannot proceed unless it is able to secure approvals and warrant the level of investment required to create it.
Those approvals include planning approvals for the change of land use, all air, water, noise and building consents as well as aeronautical approvals to commence operations.
The project includes a strong platform of community, iwi and stakeholder engagement which will continue if the airport becomes operational.
Calls for a solution
Airlines call for consideration of an airport that can cater for the growth of domestic and international travel into Otago, as well as appropriate transport solutions to disperse those visitors to all Central Otago locations.
2019 - 2020
Identifying and securing a site
For the project to offer a long-term solution, we required a site which was:
- Strategically located to serve as many regions as possible
- Large enough to meet requirements well into the future
- Aeronautically suitable for the new generations of sustainable aircraft and fuels in development
- Best suited to safe and fuel-efficient flying
- Away from projected high population areas.
Once a site had been identified, we secured 750 hectares of rural land in Tarras bordered by two State Highways (8 and 8A).
It is just 20 minutes’ drive from Cromwell, under 25 minutes from Wanaka, and just over an hour from Twizel and Queenstown.
Securing the site gave us the confidence to move to Phase One.
Stakeholder engagement commences
Engaging with all stakeholders has been, and will remain, a priority.
The project began with dozens of conversations in and around Tarras.
We also introduced the project to mana whenua who have a long connection to the region, and outlined our vision to government and industry stakeholders.
Engagement will continue throughout the project.
It is important to us that people understand our rationale. We also want people to share their ideas and concerns to help inform our thinking so we solve issues and create opportunities.
We have begun sending out regular project updates and these will continue.
In March 2021, the feedback we’d received was reported back to the community and, through two days of drop-in sessions, we had more conversations, gathered more feedback and answered more questions.
The project will use a variety of communications and engagement tools.
Preliminary Aeronautical Assessment
The preliminary aeronautical assessment was prepared with aviation consultancy Airbiz with the support of technical specialists.
The key finding is that the site is able to support an airfield with a single runway of at least 2.2 kilometres, although more detailed analysis is required.
Two potential alignments were identified. Both enable aircraft to connect from existing flight paths to the site via the Cromwell, Lindis and Hawea Valleys.
A 2.2km runway could serve all of New Zealand’s domestic routes and short-haul international operations such as trans-Tasman and parts of the Pacific.
Detailed analysis is now underway.
Our current phase
The next three or so years will be spent on validation and planning.
There are dozens of actions to be undertaken. There are some large and complex pieces of work here. Many are interconnected which requires considered sequencing.
Together they will weave a strong information base for good decision-making.
The visual project plan below offers some understanding of the workstreams, though the shape of them may change as the project progresses.
We have prioritised the Airspace workstream. This is a complex task involving a lot of modelling.
We expect to release an update on runway alignment options and potential flight paths in the coming months.
We understand the project's potential impact, so it’s important we take time to explore and understand the issues raised with us.