Q. Why is Queenstown Airport doing a Master Plan?

To support the long term growth of our region and its continued attractiveness as a place to live, work and play, we need to provide sustainable air connectivity and a world-class airport experience. We also need to be a good neighbour with a strong social, economic and environmental focus.

Having a Master Plan is crucial to help us forecast the speed of growth and consequent infrastructure requirements over the next 30 years. Our Master Plan will also help others in the region with their own planning for infrastructure, accommodation, tourism, business and other developments.

Q. What is aviation forecasting and why is it important?

Accurate demand forecasting is essential to develop a Master Plan. It helps us consider key questions like how many more passengers and aircraft movements do we need to plan for and when? It also raises questions, such as how much more volume do we want to accommodate, regardless of demand, and can our wider community and infrastructure accommodate this growth? 

To forecast demand we consulted globally recognised experts who provide aviation forecasts and route analysis to airlines and airports around the world. We also took into account potential demand for helicopters, small aircraft and private jets.

This analysis helped us get an informed long term view of where aircraft and passenger traffic will come from between 2016 and 2045, the frequency of flights and passenger numbers and what this might mean for airport infrastructure i.e. terminal size, car parking etc. The demand forecasting took into account practical considerations at the airport, such as our operating hours of 6am to 10pm and current runway length. 

Q. How are we planning to grow capacity at Queenstown Airport?

Our draft Master Plan sets out a range of options such as extending the existing terminal and building a new terminal.  A new terminal gives us the opportunity to plan for a higher number of passengers, while extending the existing facility increases capacity but not to the full extent of expected demand.  Changes to the terminal facilities will be needed and these are reflected in the proposed options. But before determining a final plan, we want to hear what the community thinks because its collective views are important in helping us shape the airport’s future.

Q. What demand can the region accommodate and what demand does it want to accommodate?

This is a key question for the region, not just the airport, to answer. For our part we are committed to managing passenger growth in a way that is sustainable and acceptable to our communities. 

Our demand forecasts predict that annual passenger numbers have the potential to increase from 1.89 million in 2017 to 3.2 million by 2025, 6 million by 2035 and 7.1 million by 2045. But we know how important it is to manage future growth sustainably and in line with stakeholder and community expectations.  Our view is that 5.1 million passengers (about 2.5 million visitors/residents) per annum is sustainable, regardless of the demand forecasting.

Q. How would the Master Plan be funded?

The plan is still in its draft form, so final costs will depend on the final plan and any development will be staged to ensure it is affordable. We have done some preliminary costings as part of the planning process which is why costs were a factor in some re-siting options being ruled out.  Funding will likely be under the type of normal commercial arrangements used for previous investments for airport improvements.

Q. What is the environmental and community impact of these forecasts?

Our modelling shows that higher demand could lead to increases in noise which will need to be managed.  Development of any infrastructure within the airport will need also need appropriate environmental management plans. 

Our view is that 5.1 million passengers per annum is sustainable, regardless of the demand forecasting showing demand at 7 million. We have also ruled out extending the runway because of environmental impacts.

 However, we also recognise there are impacts once visitors leave the airport and we are working with the council to link into its district planning.  It is important that investment in regional infrastructure and tourism facilities continues so we can address current pain points and keep pace with expected growth. There are also a number of transport projects which will contribute to easing visitor pressure. 

Q. What about noise?

We are currently doing more work to understand when the existing contours are likely to be reached and what effect the passenger demand forecasts will have on the future location of the aircraft noise boundaries. If the results show that projected aircraft operations are likely to exceed the existing noise contours ahead of time, then we would need to apply for a District Plan change to accommodate future forecast demand.

This would involve public consultation, with plenty of opportunities for people to tell us what they think before we formally lodge an application. For more information about what we’re doing to manage the impact of aircraft noise on the community please visit our website www.queenstownairport.co.nz/noise 

Q. What are the options for providing capacity elsewhere - could the airport be moved?

We commissioned a study and evaluated 20 airfields in the region.  Some were immediately ruled out because of the distance from Queenstown. We believe any new site needs to be no more than two hours away from Queenstown because it’s important for attracting workers as well as providing a good passenger experience.  In the end we came down to two options - Wanaka/Hawea Downs to the north and Five Rivers/Mossburn to the south were short listed.  Both offered advantages in terms of reducing noise impacts but also posed disadvantages in terms of the investment needed, including infrastructure.

Q. What would happen to the existing terminal?

Our draft Master Plan has various options - extend the existing terminal until its capacity is outgrown at 3.2 million passengers per annum or build a new terminal either to the north or to the south.

A new terminal would give us the most freedom to design for future demand and optimise our operations and future technology. Alternative and best uses of the existing terminal would be discussed with the community.

Q. What will happen to the cross-wind runway?

We will continue discussing and assessing the cross wind runway’s long term viability with our general aviation operators.

Q.Will these plans impact on the Events Centre and playing fields?

No.  However, Queenstown Airport does own some land within the Frankton Golf Course so conversations with the council may be had about whether and when that may be available for use.

Q. What are you doing to fix the car parking issues and road access to the airport?

We’ve just completed a $4.6 million parking and traffic flow upgrade with more improvements over the next 2 years which include expanding public and staff car parking,

Beyond the airport we’re working closely with the Queenstown Lakes District Council, NZ Transport Agency and Otago Regional Council as a member of the region’s transport governance group on longer term transport, parking and road infrastructure issues.  Traffic congestion has significantly reduced with the recent opening of Hawthorne Drive, BP roundabout improvements with $2 public buses and the new bridge coming in the next 12 months.

In terms of our master plan options, we will work with other agencies and neighbouring developers to model and design the optimal road and transport networks with the ultimate goal of minimising traffic congestion and making it easier for visitors to travel to and from the airport.

Q. How does Wanaka fit now that QAC has the governance/long term lease for Wanaka Airport?

Wanaka Airport complements Queenstown Airport and vice versa.  They are both important to the regional tourism industry and the broader economy.

The Queenstown Airport Master Plan options do not include future development plans for Wanaka Airport. They were prepared ahead of the Queenstown Lakes District Council’s decision in April 2017 to grant QAC a long-term lease over Wanaka Airport. However, Wanaka Airport was identified as a complementary airport in our siting study. 

We see Wanaka as a key element of a “one airport business, two complementary airports” approach to support economic growth across the region. Our Master Plan allows for staged development to enable us to be flexible if opportunities arise which the community could support.

We will be talking to the community about the development of Wanaka Airport once the ling-term lease is finalised with QLDC.  However, we are interested in hearing any feedback related to Queenstown Airport’s Master Plan options and Wanaka Airport’s potential future role.

Q. When could Wanaka Airport get scheduled services?

There are two major factors to consider in relation to this.  The airlines would need to gauge demand and work through business cases to ascertain what is commercially viable for them.  Then we would need to work out what infrastructure would be required to facilitate aircraft and passengers, how long it would take to put in place and how it would be funded.

Q. Will the Warbirds Over Wanaka be affected?

Warbirds over Wanaka is very much part of Wanaka’s character as an airport and a community and it’s a significant tourist attraction which is greatly valued. We have no plans to change its future.

Q. Where can I get additional information or have my say?

We have dedicated page on our website www.queenstownairport.co.nz/masterplan.  Here you’ll find a summary of the master plan, factsheets and maps.  There is also an online survey you can fill in.