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Pilots battling Wgtn runway extension

NZN 14/07/2016 Edwin Mitson

The New Zealand Airline Pilots' Association is to appeal the High Court's decision to turn down a judicial review of the 90-metre safety area proposed in the Wellington Airport runway extension.

Last week Justice Karen Clark rejected an application for judicial review of the Civil Aviation director's decision by the New Zealand Airline Pilots' Association saying the director didn't make an error in law in reaching the conclusion, nor was the consultation process with the NZAPA inadequate.

She rejected the NZAPA's claim that a cost-benefit analysis relied on by the director subordinated safety to cost, calling such criticism "unfounded". The threshold needed to establish an error of law based on "flawed evidence simply has not be met evidentially by the applicant," the judgment said.

The pilots' association president Tim Robinson says their appeal is based on international aviation safety requirements which require an area of 240m, or an equivalent consisting of a mechanical system known as EMAS.

"The proposed 90 metres falls well short of international standards. Add to this Wellington Airport's challenging environment, and it becomes clear why pilots are so concerned."

The association is to file its appeal by the end of the end of the month.

Wellington Airport wants to build a 350m runway extension in an effort to attract long-haul flights from Asia and the US, for an estimated $300 million.

Majority shareholder Infratil has been pushing for central and local government to cover the cost, claiming the national and regional interest would benefit from the investment which wasn't viable on a standalone commercial basis.

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