QAC plans for domestic services at Wanaka Airport

Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) suggested it is planning to develop a regional airport at Wanaka in New Zealand, while still enabling the general aviation activities currently at the airport.

The company said it is developing a dual airport model for Queenstown and Wanaka airports which will provide infrastructure to enable sustainable air services to the Southern Lakes region across both airports.

The company has been managing the day-to-day operations at Wanaka Airport since 2010 under a services agreement with Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC). In 2017, QLDC granted the company a long-term lease for the management, planning and development of Wanaka Airport with a 100-year lease commencing on 1 April 2018.

QAC began working on the master plan for Wanaka Airport in September 2018 and expects to complete the master planning work in late 2019 before sharing it together with the master plan for Queenstown Airport.

As part of these plans, QAC confirmed it is is planning to develop a regional airport at Wanaka to support scheduled domestic services using turboprop (Q300 and ATR) and narrowbody jets (A320/21 and B737) aircraft.

“A significant percentage of current passenger movements at Queenstown Airport directly relate to people coming from/going to Wanaka so there is already natural demand for scheduled air services to support the growing number of people who live in, work in and visit Wanaka and surrounding communities,” the company said in a statement. “The natural demand is forecast to increase over time which underlines the importance of Wanaka Airport to residents and visitors alike.”

There are no plans to accommodate wide-body aircraft or build a large international airport at Wanaka, the company said, and with the required planning and construction, QAC believe it is unlikely scheduled domestic services would begin at Wanaka Airport before 2025.

QAC also plan to continue to enable the general aviation activities and events currently hosted at the airport.

As the master plans are shaped, QAC said it will “seek insights from the long-term planning initiatives currently being undertaken by QLDC, particularly the district-wide spatial master plan with its growth forecasts for both residential population and visitors to the Southern Lakes region.”

The company are developing the dual airport model for Queenstown and Wanaka airports, and the master plans will show how the two airports will work together with gradual, phased development out to 2045.

The company is encouraging the community and stakeholders to provide feedback through engagement sessions, meetings, open days and online platforms.

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