12 September 2020

HLZ International - Again?

Hamilton City Council has asked Hamilton Airport to look at the return of international flights. Hamilton City Council has signalled its intentions that it wishes international flights to return to Hamilton airport in some form, when international travel resumes. At an Economic and Development Committee meeting on Tuesday, the council signed off on its letter of intent for the airport, with the council being a 50 per cent shareholder in the airport. Hamilton Airport's other shareholders are the four neighbouring councils in the Waikato, with Matamata-Piako, Waikato District, and Waipa District councils holding 15.63 per cent of shares, and Otorohanga District Council holding 3.13 per cent of shares. Within its aspirations, the council has told the airport's board that it should protect as best it can the airport's international designation and look to medium to long-term opportunity to extend its runway capabilities. The letter says: "The company is encouraged to become more proactive in the development of additional aviation activity at the airport including an increase in domestic and international passenger services and air freight. In particular the airport should pursue new international air service opportunities where it can with an initial focus on international airport city pairing that match existing runway capability, notably east coast Australia and the Pacific Rim." Hamilton City councillor, and deputy chairman of the committee Ewan Wilson said this was a big step in putting Hamilton back in the game for international travel. "It is a logical alternative to the second runway in Auckland, and it would be consistent to think that with the Waikato Expressway bypass, the new train service and talks of a high-speed train linking the two cities, Hamilton will see itself as a secondary gateway for freight and passengers. All we are saying is, when the time is more suitable and international travel resumes, that we look to opportunities to start returning international flights back to Hamilton, particularly with the possibility of a transtasman and Pacific bubble in the makings," Wilson said. "It will be another huge boost for both Hamilton and the Waikato, with rail on the way and the development of the metro spatial plan, it just adds another avenue for Waikato residents to travel to and from." One of the long-term proposals the metro rail plan includes is a rail station next to the Hamilton Airport which will connect with both Hamilton CBD, and the outlying Waikato towns such as Morrinsville and Te Awamutu. "We are central in the North Island, and much closer to tourism destinations across our beautiful region so it makes perfect sense that when travel resumes, we look to be ready." Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Wilson said that Hamilton Airport could be the second gateway into the North Island. The letter also requests that the airport's board and management team is engaged with the Hamilton to Auckland corridor plan. "It is a critical initiative to secure a long-term plan for this rapid growth corridor," the letter said.

Source : https://www.nzherald.co.nz/hamilton-news/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503366&objectid=12364124

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