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Runway extension delay minor: airport firm

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 9/09/2016

Wellington Airport has put the brakes on its application to extend its runway so it can digest hundreds of submissions opposing the project.

However, it says it is only a pause in the process and the application will go ahead.

Two-thirds of 776 public submissions oppose stretching the 2350-metre runway by 355m. The plan has also been questioned by pilots and airlines.

On Friday Wellington Airport asked the area's city and regional councils to suspend its application for the project.

Opponents say that is a serious development and that the airport realises the extension doesn't stack up.

Submitters had exposed holes in the arguments for the longer runway and the business case was based on inflated numbers, Guardians of the Bays' Richard Randerson told Fairfax Media.

But airport spokesman Greg Thomas said because of the number of submissions airport management simply wanted to go over them before finalising the application before it went to the Environment Court,

"All we are after is a couple more weeks to thoroughly review the submissions, dot the 'i's and cross the 't's before we hand it over to the Environment Court," he told NZ Newswire.

The airport company was confident it could address opponents' concerns and there was nothing surprising in the submissions, he said.

Wellington Airport wants to make the capital an alternative long-haul destination to Auckland, the country's dominant airline gateway, the existing second gateway Christchurch, and Queenstown.

It is seeking most of the runway extension cost of $350 million from the government and Wellington ratepayers, arguing the benefits would accrue more to the country and the region rather than the airport owner.

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