Queenstown Airport seeks community views on its 30-year Master Plan options

Queenstown Airport 2017 aerial

With strong passenger numbers expected to continue, Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) has undertaken the development of a Master Plan which lays out three options to provide for and manage growth at Queenstown Airport over the next 30 years.

QAC Chief Executive Colin Keel says that following a year of technical analysis and options evaluation, the next step is to seek feedback from stakeholders and communities across the region to help shape the airport’s future.

“Our goal is to develop Queenstown Airport in a way which is sustainable, adaptable, affordable and memorable. To do this, we need to ensure that the airport can meet the changing demands for aviation and related services as well as support the long-term growth of the region and its attractiveness as a place to live, work and play.

“When finalised, the Master Plan will provide a roadmap for sustainable airport growth, covering areas such as infrastructure development, noise planning and transport connectivity, within the context of an exceptional customer experience. We’re seeking to achieve a good balance among the needs of various stakeholders, including the local and regional communities served by Queenstown Airport,” says Mr Keel.

“We also believe the Master Plan should support the district with its own planning for transport, accommodation, tourism and other infrastructure developments. Hopefully, it will complement a future district-wide master plan.”

Mr Keel says a clean-sheet approach was taken in developing the Master Plan options to ensure an objective evaluation. The team worked with leading experts in airport infrastructure planning, aviation demand forecasting and economic modelling to assess the benefits and impacts of the projected growth profiles. Constraints such as land, noise and destination infrastructure were also considered.

“The forecasts provide a robust view of the potential demand via air transport to the region over the next 30 years. By sharing them, we hope to stimulate discussion about the level of long-term sustainable growth,” says Mr Keel.

Based on the Master Plan work to date, some significant conclusions have already been formed:

  • Consented operating hours of 6:00am to 10:00pm are proposed to remain in place.
  • The current length of the runway will not be extended to accommodate wide-body aircraft.
  • The proposed options provide for up to approximately 5 million passenger movements, despite demand forecasts of more than 7 million passenger movements by 2045.*
  • General aviation and private jet operations will continue to play an important role at the airport.

As part of the Master Plan process, relocation of Queenstown Airport to alternative regional sites was evaluated. A dual complementary airport model between Queenstown and Wanaka airports was also considered. The dual airport model was viewed as preferable to relocating the airport to a new site.

While the Master Plan work pre-dates Queenstown Lakes District Council’s decision to grant a long-term lease of Wanaka Airport to QAC, Mr Keel says the team will work with the community on development planning for Wanaka Airport when the lease is finalised.

To seek feedback on the Master Plan options, the airport leadership team will be travelling around the region during September and October to meet with a broad range of community, business and tourism groups as well as inviting members of the public to drop by local ‘fly-in’ visits.

“We are keen to share our thinking over the coming weeks and look forward to hearing people’s views on the Master Plan options. Queenstown Airport serves a large geographic area and a mix of local, national and international customers so there are online and in-person options available to make it easier to provide feedback,” says Mr Keel.

Following community engagement and feedback, QAC will identify a final Master Plan option and progress to the detailed design phase of the process. This work will be shared with the community and other stakeholders once it is developed.

More information, including a downloadable summary of the Master Plan options and fact sheets are available on a dedicated section of Queenstown Airport’s website www.queenstownairport.co.nz/masterplan. A feedback survey and schedule of public events will be published shortly.

* Airports report passengers and aircraft as “movements”. Passenger movements count both arrivals and departures i.e. 1 passenger can be counted as 2 movements (their arrival and then their departure). This means the actual number of visitors to the region via the airport is approximately half of the number of passenger movements.


First international arrivals hall 1995

Queenstown Airport 2017 aerial

Colin Keel med

Photo captions: 1&2) Queenstown Airport then and now; and 3) Chief Executive Colin Keel