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Air NZ challenges airport extension bid

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 25/11/2016

Air New Zealand is challenging Wellington Airport's plans for a runway extension, saying the airport's application for a resource consent is seriously flawed.

The national carrier says the proposal for a 350-metre runway extension to the Environment Court fails to present all the facts and contained "serious analytical flaws".

"As an airline we are usually supportive of airport developments, but this idea has no customers and no business case, and is therefore deserving of very close scrutiny," said its chief strategy officer Stephen Jones.

"The Wellington Airport application does not fairly represent the likely usage by airlines or the proposed economic benefits of the proposal."

The airline is seeking to be represented at the upcoming hearings saying it will present additional information to ensure both sides of the story are presented.

The airport argues the $300 million extension will attract long-haul flights from Asia and the United States.

The airport's 66 per cent controlling shareholder, Infratil, is pushing for central and local government funding to cover most of the capital costs, arguing the investment is in the national and regional interest.

Wellington City Council owns the remaining third.

Almost every airline operating to and from New Zealand is opposed to the proposed extension and Air New Zealand is particularly opposed as it structures its long-haul international routes through Auckland.

But the airport's chief executive Steve Sanderson said in September it had widespread support from the business community, education institutions and tourism operators.

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