Airport land squabble affects operations
The continuing impasse between a land developer and Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) is starting to affect the future operation of the airport.
Over the last two years the airport has been embarrassed by a shortage of space to park jet aircraft overnight, and QAC has tried to acquire a parcel of land, of between 46ha and 48 ha, from Remarkables Park Limited (RPL), currently earmarked as an alternative location for the Frankton Golf Course but wanted by QAC for an aviation precinct.
Scott Patterson, QAC CEO, says his company wants only about 16ha of the total land owned by RPL, leaving plenty of room for a golf course. The matter is stalemated because the owners of the land have refused to sell to the airport and have taken proceedings in the High Court to stop any statutory acquisition of the land by the airport company. There rests the matter.
In the meantime more and more corporate jets want to fly into Queenstown for overnight stops, but the airport is almost entirely occupied by commercial airlines. During the peak winter and summer seasons, when people flock to Queenstown from all over the world, corporate and private jets sometimes struggle to find parking space at Queenstown and fly to Dunedin or other airports once passengers disembark.
So serious is the situation that QAC is considering developing Wanaka airport for use as an overflow park for private and corporate jets. Scott Paterson told the Queenstown Lakes District councillors at a recent meeting that Wanaka was an attractive overflow option for corporate jets.
But before a decision is made on using Wanaka as an overflow there needed to be a review of security arrangements there, as this was a key consideration for corporate and private jets. Currently QAC is considering the cost of erecting security fencing around Wanaka airport, along with the possible engagement of a private security company.
- Report by John King.
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