Kāpiti Coast District Council chief executive Wayne Maxwell says the Council is solutions focussed and taking action, following last week’s announcement by Air New Zealand to suspend flights between the Kāpiti Coast and Auckland.
“We see a long term future for the airport and are engaging with other potential airline operators,” Mr Maxwell said.
From this weekend, Council staff will be on the ground at the airport talking to travelers and gathering additional data about how the service is used.
“This will assist us in working to bring another airline provider to Kāpiti,” he said.
Mr Maxwell’s comments echo those of Mayor K Gurunathan, who last week affirmed his confidence in the airport’s long term future. The Council had already started conversations with other airlines as potential providers of an alternative service from Kāpiti.
The Mayor was also quick to dispel suggestions of negative impacts on economic growth.
“Growth in Kāpiti doesn’t rest and fall on Air New Zealand serving the airport,” Mayor K Gurunathan said.
“We have a buoyant district economy and the expressways, Transmission Gully, quality rail links and daily flights to and from Nelson and Blenheim mean Kāpiti is connected and accessible to both the greater Wellington region, the central North Island and beyond.”
Mr Maxwell said Council’s goal for Kāpiti was an open, functioning and viable airport – not just for economic reasons, but also for the key emergency management role the airport plays in the wider Wellington region’s resilience strategies.
Former airport owner Sir Noel Robinson has also demonstrated his ongoing passion and vision for the District and the airport, commenting in a number of media interviews. This includes highlighting an increased awareness of the airport’s critical emergency management role as a logistics staging point, post the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake.
“Since we were first alerted to Air New Zealand’s decision to withdraw services from Kāpiti we have been in conversation with a range of interested parties to rally support and identify possible solutions,” he said.
This includes Air Chathams, who fly to a number of destinations and stepped in to provide a service to Whanganui in similar circumstances.
Kāpiti Coast Airport and its owner Todd Property, local MPs (Nathan Guy and Kris Faafoi), Air New Zealand, the Kāpiti Coast Chamber of Commerce, and our neighbouring Mayors in Porirua and Horowhenua have also been part of the Council’s discussions.
“We are in the process of pulling together a feasibility study and business case looking at the ongoing viability of the airport, replacing the Air New Zealand service as a starting point,” Mr Maxwell said.
“We are encouraged and bolstered by the business and community support of our initial response to the Air New Zealand announcement and will continue to take a lead in responding to their commercial decision.
“While there will be a gap in the short-term, as far as we’re concerned we must have a replacement service within two to three months.