MEDIA RELEASE: Wellington International Airport should do the right thing and pull plans to extend runway

Media Release by the Guardians of the Bays An announcement that hearings for Wellington Airport’s runway extension could be potentially delayed till late 2019 should be a final nail in the coffin for the Airport’s proposal, according to community and ratepayer groups concerned about the mounting costs to Wellingtonians. Guardians of the Bays, representing almost 600 community and ratepayer organisations and concerned individuals, said it was time for the Airport to realise the project was unviable – from both, a cost and community perspective. The Environment Court resource consent process for the extension was put on hold in April and was due to resume this month. Guardians of the Bays Co-Chair Richard Randerson said: “Wellington Airport has tried desperately to stack up its claims that there will be an economic benefit from the proposed airport extension for Wellington without success. It has drawn down significant amounts of ratepayer funding for its Environment Court application.These delays will just be adding further costs to the ratepayer bill. There is already evidence that the proposal is likely to cost much more than the $300m originally suggested four years ago when this process started – up to $500m according to one expert.” “In addition, Read More …

SAFETY FIRST: WHAT THE SUPREME COURT’S DECISION AND THE PILOTS’ ASSOCATION’S WIN MEANS TO THE RUNWAY EXTENSION – AND HOW WIAL IS TRYING TO GET AROUND IT

Legal matters can be confounding to the lay person, to say the least, and the ongoing saga of the New Zealand’s Air Line Pilots’ Association (“NZALPA”) vs the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Director (“the Director”) and Wellington Airport International Limited (“WIAL”) has been more confounding than most. This saga started back in at least 2013, when WIAL asked the Director of Civil Aviation to consider allowing a 90m minimum runway safety area (“RESA”) when extending the runway into Evans Bay, to the North. The Director agreed, based on WIAL’s provided cost-benefit analysis, that such an extension would only need the minimum 90m RESA. However, he also said that clear costings had to be provided first, and that the ruling was provisional only. NZALPA’s peer review of the cost-benefit analysis (CBA) provided by WIAL found significant short-comings (as have all other CBAs provided by WIAL since!). When the airport decided to instead put the extension South, into Cook Strait in 2014, it went back to the Director with assessments for a 100m, 200m and 300m extension, at similar costs as the $1 million per linear metre quoted to the North. The Director again accepted the airport’s reasoning that a 90m minimum Read More …

Media Release GotB: Changes to Singapore Airlines’ Capital Express still don’t stack up for ratepayers

An announcement today that Singapore Airlines has canned its route to Canberra is a stark admission that there is not enough demand for international flights out of Wellington, say those concerned about the ongoing spending of ratepayer and taxpayer money on the venture. Guardians of the Bays, representing more than 600 community and ratepayer organisations and concerned individuals, is concerned that public money has been used to subsidise the route despite it being obvious for some time that it was not successful. Guardians of the Bays Co-Chair Richard Randerson said it was no surprise that Singapore Airlines was pulling the plug on the Wellington – Canberra – Singapore route. Despite spending at least $3 million dollars of ratepayer money to promote the route, publicly available loading data clearly shows that the route achieved less than a 50 percent passenger loading. That is great if you like lots of seats on your plane, but it isn’t great for ratepayers who have been subsidising this route for more than a year – for no discernible benefit. Canberra has a similar-sized population to Wellington, and if Canberra cannot muster a payload, it is unlikely Wellington can do anything better. Latest figures from international Read More …

OPINION: THE AIRPORT’S DISREGARD OF PUBLIC SAFETY IS COMING UNDER SCRUTINY – YET AGAIN

A little over week ago, a white Subaru got washed off the Moa Point breakwater by a ‘rogue’ wave. Some reports said the car’s occupants were fishing “at the popular fishing spot”, whilst eye (and social media) witnesses said that 3 people were actually inside the car when the wave struck them. They had to smash their way out through the windows and were lucky to get out of the wild ocean alive. This is not the first time a car was swept off that breakwater, and people have died there in the past, according to locals. An airport spokeswoman wrongly claimed that the metal safety barrier had “recently been damaged by the storm or vandalised”. Now, that ‘barrier’ has long been broken, and the breakwater safety sorely neglected by the airport. As with the entire southern end of the runway, the breakwater is an eyesore full of dangerous rocks, akmons and crevices and open to the pounding southerly waves. We can often watch giant waves break over the entire runway end and the breakwater, with holes spurting water several metres high. We also often watch people fishing off the breakwater, including taking their vehicles up there. Most fishermen aren’t Read More …

MEDIA RELEASE: Ratepayers Will Pay for Wellington Airport’s Folly

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/AK1711/S00488/ratepayers-will-pay-for-wellington-airports-folly.htm Sunday, 19 November 2017, 2:27 pm Press Release: Guardians of the Bays Wellington Ratepayers Will Pay for Wellington International Airport’s Folly 19 November 2017 – Wellington International Airport is continuing its cynical campaign to shoehorn Wellington ratepayers into paying for a runway extension, despite having no airline, no business case and no eye to safety concerns raised by pilots, according to concerned ratepayers, community leaders and recreational groups. Guardians of the Bays, which represents more than 600 recreational, community and ratepayer members, says Wellington Airport’s announcement that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a Chinese company to construct the new extension shows it has little respect for the community or the ratepayers. Guardians of the Bays’ Co-Chair Richard Randerson says WIAL is trying to reinvigorate its extension plans on the back of the Government’s $1 billion regional development fund. “The questions that residents and ratepayers had prior to the General Election have still not been addressed. There is already evidence that the proposal is likely to cost much more than the $350m originally suggested, up to $500m according to one expert. “The Environment Court process is not completed, there are still questions about the safety of the Read More …

BLOG: Wellington City loses out as Airport reports falling international passenger numbers

By Dr. Sea Rotmann Wellington Airport have released their full-year results, reporting a drop in international passengers by nearly 9,000 people. The much lauded Singapore Airlines Capital Express route, which Mayor Justin Lester promised would be “a boon for Wellington offering cheaper travel” and “bring more visitors to the capital”, has failed to make much of an impact in its first six months as international numbers drop while the Wellington to Auckland route sees the biggest growth. While not supporting the rate payer subsidy given to test the Singapore connection, the trial has also confirmed what many suspected, the demand is simply not there. Better to know this now, before the council commits another $90 million on the proposed runway extension. So what does this mean for the extension? In a meeting with the Guardians of the Bays earlier this year, Mr Lester stated that if the Capital Express route take-up indicated a lack of demand, the runway extension would be taken off the table. We hope the Mayor will stand by this promise. The City Council should not be supporting this white elephant project that is riddled with flaws and will drain the region of much needed financial resources. Read More …

MEDIA RELEASE: Community Groups welcome Wellington Airport Delay at Environment Court

March 21, 2017 Residents and ratepayers group the Guardians of the Bays has welcomed the news that Wellington Airport will postpone the progression of its runway extension resource consent in the Environment Court. In advance of a pre-hearing conference on Thursday, the Airport has announced that it will withdraw its resource consent application while it appeals to the Supreme Court on the Court of Appeal ruling that the Civil Aviation Authority must reconsider its decision on the length of the proposed runway safety area. Guardians of the Bays’ Co-Chair Richard Randerson said the decision showed that Wellington Airport’s application was deficient in not considering possible contingencies such as the Court of Appeal decision. Wellington Airport has said in its own memo to the court that it will potentially need to rescope the application or withdraw it completely, if its appeal to the Supreme Court is unsuccessful. The Pilots Association case on the safety of the extension was before the courts well before Wellington Airport lodged its application to the Environment Court. Yet it still went ahead and used nearly $3 million of ratepayer funding to scope a proposal which now looks like it will be redundant. First and foremost, any Read More …

MEDIA RELEASE GotB: Airport Extension proposal delayed yet again – raising doubts about viability

For immediate release 6 March 2017 Residents’ and ratepayers’ group the Guardians of the Bays have today welcomed news that Wellington International Airport has requested an interim adjournment of proceedings from the Environment Court. The request from the Airport comes in response to the Court of Appeal ruling that the Civil Aviation Authority must reconsider its decision on the length of the proposed runway safety area. Guardians of the Bays’ Co-Chair Richard Randerson said the request showed that WIAL has not considered all the issues in enough depth. “We are pleased that the Airport is reconsidering its position. The runway extension proposal continues to face hurdles because it has not been well considered or evaluated. This serious concern around safety is just one of many examples where the numbers don’t stack up. There is already evidence that the proposal is likely to cost more than the $350m originally suggested. An extension to the runway safety area would push costs well over the half a billion dollars it is currently expected to reach and would put the project well outside the parameters of the current Environment Court application.” Co-Chair Dr. Sea Rotmann said the burden to ratepayers and taxpayers of the Read More …

RE-BLOG Werewolf: Gordon Campbell on the runway extension’s latest court failure

March 1, 2017 Gordon Campbell         Thank goodness for the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). The Court of Appeal has just ringingly found in favour of the pilots’ union over the safety issues raised by the Wellington runway extension. Not only has the previous High Court ruling been overturned. The Director of Civil Aviation (CAA) has also been ordered told back to the drawing board to properly do the job of evaluating the size of the safety areas required for the extension, in full accord with New Zealand’s international obligations. The pilots union were also compensated by the Court of Appeal judges for their costs in bringing the court action. Interestingly, the reasoning in the Court of Appeal decision almost exactly mirrored the detailed critique of the original High Court decision made in this Werewolf article last October. All along, the pilots’ safety-related legal challenge had revolved around the size of the 90 metre long Runway End Safety Area (RESA) being proposed for the runway extension. Basically, the RESA is the safety zone required if and when planes ‘run off’ the runway proper and need to decelerate safely, in the event of an emergency, or because of Read More …

RE-BLOG AUSTRALIAN AVIATION: Singapore Airlines’ Canberra flights about half full in October

January 9, 2017 by australianaviation.com.au Singapore Airlines launched Singapore-Canberra-Wellington flights in September. (Paul Sadler) Singapore Airlines’s new service to Canberra and Wellington has featured plenty of empty seats during its first months of operations, new figures suggest. According to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) monthly report on international airline passenger and freight numbers, SIA’s flights between Singapore and Canberra were roughly half full in October, the first full month the route has been in service since it launched on September 20. However, the Canberra-Wellington leg has not been as well patronised, with only a quarter of the seats filled. The BITRE data indicated SIA carried 2,599 inbound passengers from Singapore to Canberra in the month of October, when it operated 18 flights. Given flight SQ291 is operated by Boeing 777-200s configured with 38 angled life-flat business class and 228 economy class seats for a total seat count of 266, the BITRE data suggested SIA’s average load factor on Singapore-Canberra was 54.3 per cent. Meanwhile, the reciprocal SQ292 carried 2,011 passengers from Canberra to Singapore in October, which represented an average load factor of 44.5 per cent. The Singapore-Canberra-Wellington rotation, which the Star Alliance member dubs the Read More …