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 …

RE-BLOG CROAKING CASSANDRA: Wellington airport and the runway extension

By Michael Reddell, October 17, 2016. Link here. Fairfax’s Hamish Rutherford had a substantial piece in Saturday’s Dominion-Post on the proposed Wellington airport runway extension, under the heading If we build it, will they come? (a rather similar title to my own first post on the airport last year).  It seemed like a fairly balanced article, covering many (but not all) of the key uncertainties about the project.   Most of them wouldn’t be a matter for public concern if this was to be a privately-funded project, but it isn’t –  and everyone agrees on that. There was an interesting quote to that effect at the start of the article from airport company chair Tim Brown. As Tim Brown tells it, the first time he discussed a “back of the envelope”-type analysis of the cost to extend Wellington runway with the airport’s chief executive, Steve Sanderson, the conversation was “completely negative”. …..Brown had just been presented an outline of a $300 million project, aiming to enable non-stop long-haul flights to the capital. However, the  potential gains to the airport (two-thirds owned by Infratil, the rest by Wellington City Council) were likely to see a boost in profits that would only justify it investing around Read More …

RE-BLOG WELLINGTON SCOOP: 60 trucks an hour: sleep disturbance and health issues during runway construction

by Lindsay Shelton, October 11, 2016. Link here. A report from the Wellington City Council identifies a “worst case scenario” if only trucks are used to carry the rocks needed to build a longer runway at Wellington Airport. The report, prepared by the council for the airport’s resource consent application, says that 252 people sent submissions that were concerned about traffic during the four year construction period, and 202 people were concerned about noise. The council report states: The Project has the potential to generate adverse noise effects given the scale of works proposed, the duration of the construction project, and the proposed night-time construction works. In addition, the Project proposes road haulage of fill during off-peak periods (9.30am-2.30pm, and 10pm-6.00am) during weekdays, which will generate traffic noise effects on properties along the haulage route. The applicant has provided a Construction Noise Assessment … which assesses the noise effects associated with constructing the runway extension, and the land-based transportation of construction materials (including fill) to the site. The report also identifies measures to mitigate such noise. A noise expert has reviewed the airport’s proposal and has found that The Project includes a construction duration of 48 months (or greater), and Read More …

RE-BLOG WEREWOLF: SAFE LANDINGS

Wellington Airport’s runway extension faces another legal challenge, on safety grounds by Gordon Campbell, October 19, 2016. Link here. If the $300 million runway addition planned for Wellington Airport proceeds, it will have a major impact on the marine environment at both ends of the 355 metre extension, and particularly so at the Cook Strait end. Besides the permanent effect on tidal patterns along the south coast, people living adjacent to the airport will be affected by the noise, dust and truck movements during the construction phase of the project. A few weeks ago, these and other aspects of the runway extension were canvassed within Wellington Regional Council reports that were released right on the eve of the recent local body elections. The suggested steps to mitigate the effects – around Moa Point for instance – will inevitably add to the cost of the runway extension, although by how much will depend on what mitigation steps are eventually deemed to be essential by the Environment Court, which will rule on the environmental consent application in early 2017. Wellington Airport is two thirds owned by the NZX listed company Infratil, and the remaining third is owned by Wellington City Council. Infratil Read More …

RE-BLOG WELLINGTON SCOOP: Runway extension report: concerns on noise, environment, surfing, fishing

Link here. The Regional Council last week released a 165-page staff report analysing Wellington Airport’s application for permission to extend its runway. The report, on the airport’s resource consent application, confirms that of the 776 submissions received, 527 were against the runway extension, 227 were in support of it (either in full or in part), and there were 18 neutral submissions and four conditional. The airport is seeking permission for reclamation work to be carried out seven days a week, 24 hours a day. The proposed construction programme indicates that reclamation filling could take between 5 and 18 months depending on the source of material. The entire project will take up to four years. The report refers to 310 trucks per day taking loads from quarries to the reclamation site: Traffic emissions during construction will arise from trucks transporting fill material to the construction zones at the airport and construction vehicles at the airport construction site…The applicant considers that it is unlikely that there will be any measurable changes in vehicle related combustion emissions from 310 trucks per day…. [An expert] has advised that the covering of loads is “best practice and will satisfactorily mitigate potential fugitive dust over the Read More …

RE-BLOG SURFBREAK PROTECTION SOCIETY: “DUDE, WHERE’S MY SURF BREAK?”

By Michael Gunson WIAL’s grand plan for Lyall Bay’s surf breaks: The Surf break Protection Society (SPS) would like to think that its submission opposing Wellington International Airport Limited (WIAL)’s airport extension and artificial swell focus reef is the cause of the airport company’s decision to suspend and revise its consent application. The reality is probably that the society’s submission is only one of a number of high quality submissions that have led WIAL to suspend the process. After recent investigations and inquiries by SPS, WIAL have stated that they have no plans to increase the Moa Point Rd seawall, next to the Corner surf break, during the next 12 months. This has come as a bit of a surprise to Wellington surfers, as it was assumed these works since 2000 had been undertaken by the Wellington City Council, not the largely privatised WIAL. The works on the seawall are undoubtedly having an adverse effect on the Corner surf break, Wellington’s most popular surfing venue. These works coincide with WIAL seeking the deletion of the Corner surf break from the GWRC Natural Resources Plan (PNRP)’s schedule of regionally significant surf breaks. WIAL have been modifying the Moa Point Rd seawall Read More …

RE-BLOG CROAKING CASSANDRA: Subsidy City… Wellington Airport

By Michael Reddell Link At about 3pm, the first Singapore Airlines flight to Wellington, via Canberra of all places, lands at Wellington Airport.  Wellington-boosters, well represented on the Council and the Chamber of Commerce, talk up the first “long-haul” flight to and from Wellington.  All of which would be more impressive if it were not for the ratepayers’ money being (secretly – no information on the amounts or terms of these sweetheart deals, no robust cost-benefit analysis etc) used to make it all possible.    Were the flights financially self-supporting that would be the best evidence of them being “a good thing”.  But they aren’t.  That means (a) a presumption against them being “a good thing”, and (b) a likelihood that they won’t survive for long, at least without some permanent subsidy from the long-suffering ratepayers of Wellington. It probably isn’t a subsidy to the giant Singapore Airlines –  they’ll probably just manage a normal return on capital –  but by quite which canons of social justice ratepayers should be subsidizing government departments (probably the main purchasers of tickets on the Wellington-Canberra leg, and one of the larger sources of international passengers from Wellington) is beyond me. But at least these Read More …

PILOTS OUTLINE SAFETY FEARS FOR WELLINGTON AIRPORT’S RUNWAY EXTENSION

Link to Radio NZ article here Thanks to the Pilots Association for caring about the travelling public’s safety – because Wellington International Airport Ltd (WIAL) seem to be happy with ‘making do’. The Association’s President Tim Robinson said in their submission on the runway extension that his members had the most to gain from the extension but was opposed to it unless it included a Runway End Safety Area (RESA) of 240 metres.   This is the minimum expected by the International Civil Aviation Organisation and New Zealand’s own Civil Aviation Authority – organisations that presumably know a thing or two about airport safety. What’s more, they don’t have a vested interest in the airport, unlike WIAL who stands to gain A LOT from increased landing charges that will be passed on to all of us, the travelling public. As international aviation safety expert, Brian Greeves has said when acknowledging the cost of installing a 240 metre RESA, “the financial losses if just one Boeing 777 or Airbus 330 aircraft were to overrun the runway and 90 metre RESA with substantial fatalities, would more than outweigh the construction cost, without taking into account the human cost”.  On top of this, Read More …

RE-BLOG SURFBREAK PROTECTION SOCIETY: Wellington Airport Calling the Tune on Lyall Bay’s Corner surf break

by Michael Gunson Link here Revelations have emerged that Wellington International Airport Ltd has been responsible for alterations to the Moa Point Road sea wall in Lyall Bay. Why has the airport been in charge of developing the sea wall, and not the Wellington City Council? The incremental creep of the sea wall has had a negative impact on Wellington’s premier Lyall Bay Corner surf break. WIAL are also applying for consents to build a 3 meter wide promenade the length of Moa Point Rd, as well as seeking the Corner surf break’s deletion, from a GWRC schedule of regionally significant surf breaks. Since the beginning, the airport company has reassured Wellington surfers that it is doing all it can to preserve our surf breaks in Lyall Bay, to mitigate future impacts and even improve it. As we stare down the barrel of their proposed runway extension, it is now becoming clear to Wellington’s surfing community that this is not the case. The 346-page Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE) only discusses mitigation, not active avoidance or a plan to remedy adverse effects on the Corner. WIAL has submitted 28 documents to the Wellington City Council (WCC) and the Greater Wellington Read More …