We Love Wakatipu Inc submission to QLDC Council meeting

25 June 2020

Good afternoon, I’m Sally Stockdale, speaking as vice-chair of We Love Wakatipu Inc

Air New Zealand’s recent announcement they would introduce A321 Neos to increase July school holiday capacity into Queenstown – to above 2019 levels – revealed a huge and hidden gap in QAC’s argument for expanding Queenstown Airport’s Air Noise Boundary.

Because they don’t actually need to create more airport noise to reach their target of up to 5.1 million passengers by 2045.

But they hadn’t shared this fact with either council or the community.  We only found out about it in QAC’s response to an official information request sent by We Love Wakatipu Inc the day before New Zealand’s international border was closed.

This acknowledged their modelling used to justify the unwanted noise boundary expansion was based on currently operating aircraft.  This did not include the 25% increase capacity of A321Neos.  Nor their up to 75% air noise reduction technology.

So that’s around 100% more passenger capacity within the existing air noise boundary – with more in the development pipeline.

QAC say they will take such technology in their long-term planning and “encourage” airlines to use such aircraft.

Jetstar had already announced it would use the A321 Neos this winter. Air New Zealand hadn’t – but hey presto, it responded to the need.

In terms of QAC’s October statement of intent, some things to please keep in mind:

  • Queenstown Airport Corporation could reach its 2045 passenger target WITHIN the existing air noise boundary if airlines use the quieter, bigger planes already available.
  • Air New Zealand’s quick pivot to A321 Neos next month shows airlines will do so, if given the motivation of necessity.
  • Requiring QAC to do as you asked in your statement of expectations earlier this year – to operate within the existing air noise boundary – would provide this. The SOI you agreed to in April does not.
  • You have the legal power to do so and QAC must comply.
  • If you do not, the same 100% increased capacity of bigger, quieter planes would apply to the expanded ANB. So QAC could welcome 10.2 million passenger movements a year.  Remember, the only definitive control of airport growth you have is the air noise boundary.

We hope you will take QAC director Michael Stiassny’s advice – we sent you the link some time ago – that NOW IS the time to discuss with our community what kind and rate of growth we want. 

I’m sure you don’t want to compound our communities’ Covid pain by pushing recovery in the wrong directions.

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