27 August 2012

A Developed Airline needs a Developed Airport

Tasman District Council’s delay in producing a long-term plan for Takaka aerodrome is leaving the Bay’s airline and tourism businesses feeling frustrated. Lisa Sheppard of Golden Bay Air told the Golden Bay Weekly “There’s no strategic plan; no real idea of how it should be developed…Up until now, the way it’s been operated is reactive rather than proactive.” Tasman District Council is responsible for the aerodrome but its management has been delegated to the Takaka Aerodrome Management Committee. Things have to be achieved on a tight budget.  “Our annual income last year was around $18,000,” says committee chair Ian Orange. “We do our best with what we’ve got.” External funds are required for capital works such as sealing the alternative “cross runway”, seen as essential to ensure maximum flexibility for aircraft operating in a variety of weather conditions... The word “strategic” seems inseparable from any discussion on the future of the aerodrome. For Golden Bay Air, the presence of a strategic plan would provide them with the certainty they need before making long-term investments in their business. To complement their Wellington and Karamea routes, they have considered starting a scheduled service to Christchurch, but Lisa explains that it’s all rather complicated. “It’s not just about the runway and the other facilities; we would need to buy a pressurised aircraft because of the height we would be flying at and it would need to be bigger to make it economically viable.” That’s unlikely to happen any time soon. “It’s way off, given how long the present situation has gone on.”

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