Media release from Tim Costley, the National Party candidate — but this is on behalf of the Save Kapiti Airport Group, not the National Party:
Save Kāpiti Airport Group determined to keep airport operational
Save Kāpiti Airport (SKA) are united in their determination to keep the Airport operational. The group was formed by National Party Candidate and former-Air Force pilot Tim Costley and has representatives from Air Chathams, Sounds Air, Kāpiti Aero Club, private aircraft operators, businesses based at the airport, and the Kāpiti Coast Chamber of Commerce. KCDC and Airways have been included in discussions. The group have met with airport owners NZPropCo Ltd this week.
NZ Prop Co says it is considering “all options” and SKA are concerned this could mean an end to all flying operations as early as the evening of September 10th. This date coincides with a proposed date to end the Airways NZ “AFIS” service at the airfield. Work is currently being done to extend the date AFIS is withdrawn to buy more time for discussions around the future of the airport.
Mr Costley does not believe discussion around safety concerns stemming from the withdrawal of the AFIS have been accurate or fair. “It is our position, and we understand that of Airways NZ, that flying could be safely conducted without an AFIS at the airfield, as happens in Whanganui, Taupo, and many other airfields that have commercial flights and no AFIS.”
“Suggestions that AFIS was needed after a fatal accident in 2008 have been mis-leading. The report into the mid-air collision at Paraparaumu clearly states ‘the absence of an air traffic control or information service [AFIS] on the aerodrome was not considered a significant factor‘.”
SKA understands the commercial interests of NZ Prop Co but they purchased the airfield after completing their own due diligence. Pointing to the 2018 withdrawal by Air New Zealand is highly misleading, given NZPropCo did not buy the airfield until the end of 2019, well after Air NZ had left. There have been no significant changes to the commercial viability of the airfield in the time they have owned it and Air Chathams has noted their Paraparaumu route has recovered after the Covid-19 level 4 restrictions quicker than other route they service. Similarly, the Kapiti Aero Club recorded its highest number of monthly flying hours in July 2020.
“Our group is open to genuine discussion about the future of land surrounding the airport, but will not compromise on its goal of keeping the airport operational.
“We are calling on Mayor Guru and KCDC to come out and support the strategic importance of the airport to this region, and it’s continued operation,” Mr Costley said.
A public meeting has been called on Saturday August 29th, at 2pm at St Paul’s Church on Kāpiti Road opposite the old control tower. This date may change if we do not return to level 1 as planned on August 26th. In the meantime, a petition has been launched to capture public support for the airport. This can be found at www.savekapitiairport.co.nz
From: Amanda Vickers, Social Credit Deputy Leader
Social Credit is putting the owners of the Paraparaumu aerodrome on notice that should it have a say in government it would require the property to be sold to the crown or the council at a price similar to that which they paid for it last year.
“Unlike National, who have simply expressed ‘concern’ that the airport is likely to be sold, we are determined to secure the future of the Coast’s airport along with all the benefits it brings to the surrounding area”.
“Social Credit has always said that strategic assets should be returned to public ownership and Paraparaumu airport is one of those strategic assets”.
The purchase would be funded by using the country’s own bank, the Reserve Bank, which has proven that method of funding is viable, having just announced it is increasing its money creation to $100 billion dollars over the next two years.
The other option could be to provide an interest free loan to the Kapiti Coast District Council should they wish to purchase the asset instead.
The imminent closure of the Paraparaumu aerodrome would be an enormous loss to the Kapiti Community should its new owner, NZPropCo, close the air services.
NZPropCo is in the property development business and is part owned by London based merchant bankers and property developers Alvarium RE Limited.
It has little interest in the future of the land as an airport, and the purchase was made for the purpose of property speculation.
Kapiti airport is not only estimated to bring $4.3 million dollars per year to the Coast community, but it is convenient for residents to travel to Auckland, adding to the appeal of the coast.
It also provides an important emergency airport for Wellington should that be necessary and provides access should the coast be cut off from Wellington by earthquake or other civil defence emergency.
If NZPropCo believes the commercial benefit from retaining the airport is not profitable enough for them then the airport property should be returned to public hands for the benefit of the people of the Kapiti Coast.