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 …

NEWS – Business Desk: Wellington Airport seeks resource consent delay as it re-applies for runway extension

By Sophie Boot March 19 (BusinessDesk) – Wellington International Airport has asked to put its runway extension resource consent application on hold for nine months, as it plans to re-ask the Civil Aviation Authority for permission for its plan. The airport, which is two-thirds owned by NZX-listed infrastructure investment company Infratil and 33 percent by Wellington City Council, is seeking the majority of the estimated $330 million runway extension cost from central government and Wellington ratepayers. The 355-metre runway extension would be an effort to attract long-haul flights from Asia and the US. In 2016, the CAA said a 90-metre runway end safety area (RESA) for the extended runway would be sufficient, which was disputed by the New Zealand Airline Pilots’ Association all the way to the Supreme Court, which rejected the airport’s planned RESA in December last year. International standards call for the RESA to be at least 90 metres, and, if practicable, at least 240 metres. According to the agenda for the upcoming meeting of the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s environment committee, the airport has asked the Environment Court to adjourn its resource consent application for the extension a further nine months, giving it time to “re-apply to the Director of Civil Aviation for approval 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: 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 …

NEWS: CAA must review safety areas at Wellington Airport, Court of Appeal rules

HAMISH RUTHERFORD Last updated 13:05, February 28 2017 SUPPLIED An aerial map of Wellington Airport showing where the proposed runway extension would be built to the south. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has to revisit a decision over whether a longer runway safety area is needed if Wellington Airport extends its runway, a court has ruled. In a decision released on Tuesday the Court of Appeal has agreed with the NZ Airlines Pilots’ Association (NZALPA) that the CAA must consider if longer runway safety areas (RESA) can feasibly be constructed, and also consider the use of arresting systems if appropriate. The Court of Appeal found that in ruling that Wellington’s existing 90 metre safety area as compliant and appropriate for Wellington Airport’s proposed extension, the director of the CAA “made material errors in law”. unknown Wellington Airport chief executive Steve Sanderson said it was too early to say what impact the Court of Appeal ruling would have on the proposed runway extension. Under international aviation rules, regulators must ensure that airports operate with RESAs of at least 90m, and if “practicable” of at least 240m. READ MORE: * Wellington Airport puts resource consent plans for runway extension on hold * Wellington Airport asking councils to restart runway extension Read More …

NEWS – Newshub: New Wellington reservoir must be priority after quake – Councillor

Link to original post here. Tuesday 22 Nov 2016 9:18 p.m. By Chris Holden A new reservoir designed to prevent Wellington being cut off from water for up to 100 days following an earthquake is being labelled an absolute priority by a Wellington City councillor. In an unlikely move, Green Party Councillor Iona Pannett, who chairs the Wellington City Council’s City Strategy Committee, has revealed she is open to considering a public-private partnership to construct the $25 million, 35 million litre reservoir above the Prince of Wales park in central Wellington. Without the reservoir, Wellingtonians could face up to a 100-day wait to get their water back up and running after a major quake, and Ms Pannett says after last Monday’s 7.8 tremor it must be a priority now. Ms Pannett’s preference is that the funding comes from central Government but she is open to a public-private partnership. “Discussions with central Government must begin immediately,” Ms Pannett says. “The Wellington Council simply doesn’t have the funding, and will now need to look to other options.” Documents provided by Wellington Water to Wellington City councillors in 2012 estimate getting water reconnected following a break in the bulk supply lines could take Read More …

SCOOP – Wellington Airport workers kept “in the dark”

Originally posted on Scoop Press Release – Public Service Association Wellington Airport managers must front up to serious questions over its response to Monday mornings earthquake – and how it communicated with other agencies, the PSA says.Wellington Airport workers kept “in the dark” during quake aftermath Wellington Airport managers must front up to serious questions over its response to Monday morning’s earthquake – and how it communicated with other agencies, the PSA says. PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says around a dozen staff from the Ministry of Primary Industries plus additional Customs and other workers were at the airport when the quake hit. “We have spoken to our members at Wellington airport and they are gravely concerned at what happened on Monday,” Mr Barclay says. “Our members have told us they are not well briefed on emergency procedures or evacuation plans. “This is a serious concern, especially considering Wellington Airport sits just 2 kilometres from a fault line.” Virgin’s flight VA108 from Brisbane landed 20 minutes after the first quake and MPI and Customs staff processed passengers and cargo with little information about their own safety. Mr Barclay says MPI staff stayed on duty after the tsunami warning was issued, 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 …