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 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 …

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 …

MEDIA RELEASE: No plan B leaves Wellington ratepayers exposed over airport extension proposal.

“Wellington City Council has no Plan B to protect Wellington’s ratepayers if the Wellington Airport Extension doesn’t deliver,” according to business, recreational, community and environmental groups who are calling for more rigour around the proposal. The Guardians of the Bays, a citizen-led umbrella organisation representing a growing number of groups of businesses and individuals who are concerned the runway extension will not deliver the benefits being promised by Wellington International Airport Limited and some City Councillors. Co-chairs Dr Sea Rotmann and Richard Randerson said the airport is being presented to the public as Wellington’s main economic growth option. “We are all keen on a progressive and successful Wellington. But the numbers being put up for this proposal simply don’t stack up. “The Council has promised $90 million of ratepayer money, on top of $3 million already handed over to the airport, for a runway extension that has no business case. The Airport has refused to put its numbers under the scrutiny of the Government’s own Better Business Case process, which is required for getting Central Government funding.” “Economically, the runway extension has the potential to lump Wellington ratepayers with a wasteful and unnecessary White Elephant requiring significant ratepayer subsidies and 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 …

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 …

REBLOG Keith Johnson: The business case for (or should that be against?) the Wellington runway extension

DOWN TO EARTH WITH A BUMP Everyone is slowly getting back to normality after the Christmas Holidays here in the Antipodes. The holidays are taken very seriously [or should I say ‘unseriously’], resulting both in substantial brain-fade during their duration and the build up of a toxic aversion to a return work among most citizens. Like many, I took work with me during my vacation and did virtually nothing. I had loaded the SELENA Spreadsheet Model on my hard drive. This had been supplied under an Official Information Request to the consulting group Sapere, via Wellington City Council. These Rascals used the Model to generate the numbers for the Report which they prepared for Wellington International Airport Limited [WIAL]: ‘Cost Benefit Analysis of the Proposed Runway Extension at Wellington International Airport’ [by Kieran Murray, John Wallace, Preston Davies – you naughty boys]. Fortunately, when I tried to test the scenarios and unlock the coding behind the Model, I was met with the instruction: ‘The cell or chart you are trying to change is protected and read only. To modify … you may be prompted for a password’. This allowed me to get back on the plonk and chill. However, I Read More …

REBLOG Croaking Cassandra: Further thoughts on the Wellington Airport Part 2

In my first post today, I posed some questions around the plausibility of the assumed increase in international travel into and out of New Zealand if the proposed Wellington airport runway extension was to proceed. In this post, I want to focus mainly on how the consultants have calculated the net national benefits from the runway extension. The Sapere cost-benefit analysis estimates net benefits to New Zealand from proceeding with the runway extension now of $2090 million (2015/16 dollars).  These results are summarised in Table 30 of the report.  Of these gains, just under half accrue to New Zealand users of the airport (in respect of both passenger and freight traffic) and just over half accrue to “other sections of the community”. Even if the passenger number assumptions are correct, the benefits to New Zealand users appear to be somewhat overstated, and the benefits to the rest of the community are largely non-existent. Take  the users first.    The main benefit to New Zealand users is the lower cost of travel.   Much of that is the cost of time.  The consultants have valued the time of New Zealand travellers using some standard values from an Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority document, but Read More …

REBLOG Croaking Cassandra: Further thoughts on the airport Part 1

Shortly after the release of the cost-benefit analysis of the proposed Wellington airport runway extension, prepared by Sapere for Wellington International Airport Limited (WIAL) I wrote a post in which I posed the question “If they build it, what if no one comes?” Since that post, I’ve been to one of the open day/public consultation meetings, have read and thought about the documents more thoroughly, and have read various pieces written by others, including the new one by Ian Harrison that I linked to yesterday.  I have also had some engagement with Sapere and WIAL, which has helped to sharpen my sense of what the issues really are. The cost-benefit analysis is not a business case document.  It has been prepared in support of a resource consent application.  What I hadn’t known when I wrote earlier (and was advised of by Sapere) is that  under the RMA the applicants will need to be able to demonstrate national benefits to get permission to fill in some more of Lyall Bay, to extend the runway. I’m sure that the cost-benefit analysis is not serving as a business case for Infratil, the major shareholder in WIAL.  But since this project is generally accepted Read More …