New 'sustainable' airport proposed for Central Otago

Christchurch Airport has revealed a proposal to build a “sustainable” airport on 750 hectares of land in Central Otago.


It would be built on land near Tarras (32km from Wanaka) that Christchurch Airport has already purchased, and is aimed to be “one of the world’s most sustainable airports”.

The land is bordered by State Highway 8 and 8A and $45 million has been spent on the project so far.

Christchurch Airport chief executive Malcolm Johns says the concept would deliver widespread social and economic benefits to regions across the South Island.

“Our top priority is a conversation with the people who live closest to the site – the Tarras community. This is their home and it’s important they are given the opportunity to ask us their questions directly and understand our thinking.”

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Christchurch Airport wants to build the airport on land it already owns. Source: 1 NEWS

This development could place a stronger hold on any idea of an expansion for nearby Wanaka Airport which is currently on a 100-year lease by Queenstown Airport Corporation.

At present it is only used by private pilots and small commercial companies.

“We note with interest this afternoon’s announcement from Christchurch International Airport regarding their purchase of a rural land parcel in the region. A greenfield airport development, by its very nature, is a long-term proposition,” says Ms Adrienne Young-Cooper of Queenstown Airport Corporation.

“As signalled for almost a year, QAC has paused its long-term planning while QLDC and Central Government complete their district spatial plan work including infrastructure planning and impact assessment of airport development as key inputs into our future thinking," she said.

Christchurch Airport's project team is set to consult with people across the South Island on their proposed airport.

“We have a lot of work to do, but our current concept is to start with a 2.2-kilometre, jet capable runway. Building from scratch would enable us to design and build one of the world’s most sustainable airports.”

Mr Johns says they had begun work on the proposal prior to Covid-19 hitting.

“The virus doesn’t change too much of this proposal – except for timeframes. We are confident the central and southern South Island will always be a place where people seek to live, visit and work.

“This site is close to existing infrastructure and is easily accessible for a number of regions. Its topography would enable airlines to use their most sustainable aircraft.”