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 …

Longer runway not priority for city businesses – council survey

Original article Wellington’s parking and transport are bigger challenges to Wellington businesses than lack of international capacity via Wellington International Airport, according to the Wellington City Council’s 2016 Survey of Wellington Businesses. Richard Randerson, co-chair of broad-based residents’ group Guardians of the Bays, says the survey is further evidence that Wellington Airport’s proposed runway extension is not the silver bullet Wellingtonians have been promised. “The Airport and the City Council have been promising ratepayers that long-haul flights into Wellington will create more business opportunities for local companies, but this survey shows that businesses are wise to the real issues – and accessibility within the city is a much bigger concern. “The survey also shows that over 90 percent of business do not feel disadvantaged by a lack of business opportunities or the size of the local market.” Mr Randerson added that the City Council had been quick to give the Airport Company $3million of ratepayer money last year to help scope its resource consent application even though their own 2014 research showed just 10 percent of local businesses thought more international flights into the capital would provide advantages. “We are now looking to the next generation Council and we are Read More …

Wellington runway extension plan ‘implausible at best’

Original article on scoop.co.nz By Pattrick Smellie Aug. 15 (BusinessDesk) – Wellington’s airport runway extension initiative fails on the grounds that lower North Island and South Island travellers are already flying to long-haul destinations through Auckland or Christchurch and the region is not a magnet for tourists, who are more likely to favour Auckland and Queenstown as an arrival point. That’s the conclusion of a study commissioned by the lobby group for international airlines, including Air New Zealand, lodged in opposition to Wellington International Airport’s application for a resource consent to lengthen the capital city’s runway by 350 metres. The new study, by Australian-based Ailevon Pacific Aviation Consultants for the Board of Airline Representatives in New Zealand, said the likelihood of airlines establishing new long-haul services to the capital is “extremely remote, implausible at best”. It contests the findings of a study by rival aviation industry consultants, InterVistas, which APAC said has over-estimated demand for long-haul services to and from Wellington, which it said has not benefitted from the boom in international tourism that has boosted arrivals, particularly to Auckland and Queenstown, in recent years. “Visitor demand growth from long-haul markets to Wellington has lagged not only the New Zealand Read More …

OPED DOM POST: Richard Randerson- The Runway Extension is pouring money into Cook Strait

See article here. JOHN NICHOLSON/FAIRFAX NZ Wellington Airport: Is it fair for public money to fund corporate profit and assets?  OPINION: Wellington Airport’s CEO, Steve Sanderson, wrote glowingly (Dominion Post, June 25) of the benefits from extending Wellington’s runway 355 metres into Cook Strait. The homework has been done, the benefits are clear, the money will flow, the resource consent application has been lodged and all that remains is for Wellingtonians to make supportive submissions to the Environment Court, he writes. Who could disagree that tourism, student numbers and business ventures would benefit from better connectivity? But would a runway extension achieve such benefits? And might there not be better ways to invest public money for that purpose? The costings for the whole project are murky. For some years now the cost of the extension has been stated to be $300 million. It matters not whether the extension goes 300m into Evans Bay, as originally proposed, or 355m into Cook Strait, as now proposed. READ MORE: * Steve Sanderson: Extending the Wellington Airport runway is the only option * Wellington Airport has no ‘Plan B’ if $300m runway extension fails to fly * Airport claims not all planes need to be able to land on longer runway * Pilots challenge safety zones Read More …

BLOG: MORE AND MORE WELLINGTONIANS ARE BECOMING CONCERNED ABOUT THE PROPOSED AIRPORT EXTENSION

Opposition to the proposed runway extension is growing if attendance at the recent Guardians of the Bays information evening is anything to go by. A diverse range of groups, from business, community, recreational and environmental organisations are asking questions to peel away the public relations spin around the ill-conceived, expensive airport extension proposal. Groups as diverse as Forest & Bird; various Residents’ Associations; Wellington businesses; Save the Basin; the Surfbreak Protection Society; Hue te Taka Society; OraTaiao: The NZ Climate & Health Council; the Wellington Underwater Club; 350.org and the Green Party, to name a few, were represented at last week’s meeting. It quickly became clear that everyone present was deeply concerned at the spin being put out by the airport company, and the potential cost it will have to ratepayers and taxpayers, and of course to the beautiful Wellington south coast. The meeting was MCed by Bishop Richard Randerson, who has national standing for his work in faith-based and place-based communities. He made it clear that an airport extension does not make Wellington more progressive, particularly when the ratepayers and taxpayers are being asked to subsidise one of New Zealand’s wealthiest companies. Dr Sea Rotmann, co-Chair of the Guardians Read More …

REPORT CAPA: Christchurch International Airport belies its ‘remoteness’; pivotal to New Zealand’s tourism

This report clearly shows why Christchurch, not Wellington, is the obvious second long-haul airport in New Zealand. In summary: ChCh airport already has a well-established runway that can fly in large, long-haul planes safely ChCh airport has no curfew and does not operate in the middle of the city ChCh has greater tourism and manufacturing and industry importance than Wgtn ChCh airport is higher ranked on most metrics than Wgtn: on ASKs (average seat km), seats and cargo payload It also has a higher degree of choice for passengers Emirates, Singapore, China Southern and Fiji airlines already fly long-haul from ChCh It has much greater cargo capacity than Wgtn It already has 3 runways and a completed major terminal upgrade It is entirely in the public hand (75% City Council, 25% NZ Govt) and will remain so Queenstown, not Wellington is its biggest competitor (but not for long-haul flights). Queenstown is the second busiest airport in the country already. REPORT: New Zealand is a remote country and Christchurch, on the South Island, a more remote city than either Auckland or Wellington. Being located at the far end of the world must impact on connectivity. The government has transformed New Zealand Read More …

Yet another world expert says the runway extension is pure fantasy

Once again the Guardians’ concerns with regard to the inadequacy of the information and therefore the flimsy nature of the business case has been endorsed, this time by an international expert. Isn’t it high time that we start listening to some experts other than the shills paid by the airport? But – you will say (if you are Justin Lester) – these are just shills paid by Air New Zealand, who clearly have a nefarious “Anti-Wellington” agenda! Well, we find it hard to argue that Montie Brewer can be accused of an “Anti-Wellington” agenda, seeing he is an actual world expert (not like InterVISTAS who get paid to lobby) and doesn’t have any skin in the game either way. What is so incredibly disconcerting to us is that none of the Councillors who are so willing to throw our taxpayer money at this have read any of the reports! Not even the discredited, half-baked ones that the airport did which they paid for with our money! Cause anyone who reads these reports – and the many retorts against their validity – can make up their own mind pretty quickly about how well the data was collected or how far the Read More …

OUR SUBMISSION TO THE WELLINGTON CITY COUNCIL’S ANNUAL PLAN

We have submitted the following to the WCC’s Annual Plan – as they were asking for ‘good ideas’ from the community of how to spend our money better. It may be largely lip-service, seeing the Council has gotten a lot of flak recently over their public ‘consultation’ (or lack thereof) processes, but we felt it was important to continue to engage with the Council and to use this democratic process. Dr Sea Rotmann, our Co-Chair spoke to the submission and Clive Anstey had also sent it round to every Councillor with a cover letter beforehand. Councillor Andy Foster, to his credit, replied with an immediate and thoughtful response, outlining the many caveats that would still need to be met before the Council would decide to spend the $90m that were already earmarked for this proposal in the Long Term Plan. He also spoke to Dr Rotmann and Mr Anstey during the break, which may have been a bit of a mistake: He told them that his mind was still completely open (good!) but that he wasn’t sure that emotions (on both sides) weren’t getting in the way of the facts (our main emotion is frustration that the airport’s ‘facts’ are Read More …

RE-BLOG Strathmore Park: Wellington Airport extension supporters suffering Polyannaism

For years now, Wellington International Airport and it’s pet monkey the Wellington City Council have been pushing for an airport extension. And for years now, it hasn’t stacked up. No small wonder when the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) and the Board of Airlines Representatives of New Zealand (BARNZ) slammed the business case that the Pollyanna Team had put together in support of the extension. The WCC has poured millions after millions into this project paying for reports that have been slammed every time they are produced. This airport extension does not stack up, for anyone, other than Infratil. Key Finding: the central scenario BCR of 1.7 is significantly over-stated. The reason that it stacks up for Infratil is that they, being in a monopoly position, can take profit based on square meterage. This is governed by the Commerce Commission. The more land they have the more profit they can take. It is no small wonder then that attempting to secure thousands of extra square meters, with the public paying far more than their fair share, is attractive. There are numerous gaps in the draft analysis. But the Council continues to support the extension despite the evidence showing Read More …

REBLOG Strathmore Park Blog: Singapore Airlines just saved Wellington $90m

News this week that Singapore Airlines will be flying “direct” from Wellington to Singapore via Canberra single-handedly proving that we don’t need a $300m plus runway extension to access Asia and saving the ratepayers the $90m that was looking earmarked for the project. Rejoice Wellington. In a Powerpoint Presentation written by what appears to be a PR Company engaged by the Wellington City Council, (WCC Presentation), the platitudes run thick and fast. Sadly, as usual, the propaganda is flowing in some places. “It proves that direct flights to Asia will be feasible.” Well, no, it proves that flights to Singapore via Canberra will be feasible right up until the point other competition enters the same market. Because right now Singapore Air gets the march on consumers wanting to fly to Asia, but once another airline starts the same route, the economics are likely to be stuffed proper. And Singapore Airlines are getting subsidised by the ratepayers it seems. In terms of direct flights to Asia, it really doesn’t prove anything. In fact, so far, the WCC and WIAL have single-handedly failed to explain how it will be economically viable. We already know that twenty airlines have said they wouldn’t use Read More …