We dug up the second arrangement between the Council and the airport, where the Council agreed to fund the airport with an extra $1.95m towards fast-tracking the runway extension through a board of inquiry process. It’s a fascinating read, especially when you look at how badly the airport misjudged the initial costings and how it is getting the Council to co-fund its EPA process as well, even though it says this will be at the ‘cost of the applicant’. Hmmm. Another great insight is the Council’s own peer-review of the two airport reports (EY economic impact statement reviewed by PwC and INTERVista long-haul demand report reviewed by AirBiz). Even though they are summarised as ‘supporting the logic, methodology and process used by the WIAL reports’ when you actually read through them you find some very interesting caveats and cautions. For example:
- the passenger catchment area of 1.1 million people has been hugely overblown. Instead of the claimed 472,000 passengers that demand long-haul flights out of Wellington it is only 104,000! A quote from Price Waterhouse Cooper for the City Council: “PwC advises WCC that the potential to realise the benefits claimed in the EY report become progressively less certain the further the catchment is drawn”
- the EY report also identified the Asian region as the one with the most demand from Wellington travellers, however it is Australia (by far!) then the UK and US that attract most long-haul travellers. Another quote: “This means that for the current domestic demand the runway extension for Asian travel is not priority”
- Then there was of course the hoary old chestnut in the EY report that ‘direct services to Wellington will impact the choice of city that international students make when deciding on which University to go to’. Unsurprisingly PwC found that “the quality of education/course/institution is the most significant contributing factor for international students” etc.
We are almost certain that the airport’s claim that NIWAs environmental marine assessment report shows that there will be ‘no sediment runoff, no impact on the water column, it is not an ecologically significant site and no habitat for endangered animals’ is also misquoted and overblown. It will be interesting to pick apart their reports when they are finally released to the public (when??), and match the actual analysis to their spin and half-truths…