Where’s the long-haul airline?

by Lindsay Shelton
There’s less than a month remaining for the Wellington City Council to deliver one of the key planks of its economic blueprint. Announced a year ago, the blueprint says the council intends to introduce long-haul flights from Wellington to Asia by 2013. But there hasn’t yet been any announcement of a new airline deciding to come here.

And at the airport there’s no sign of preparations for handling extra passengers from long-haul flights, though the airport company said earlier this month it was “chasing hard” to find a foreign airline which would start a new service direct from Wellington to Asia.

The city council announced its economic blueprint last December, including the airline deadline. It repeated the announcement in June, again stating its intention to have long-haul flights from the airport by next year. Councillor Jo Coughlan, the Council’s Economic Portfolio Leader, said it was “particularly pleasing that Councillors have agreed to invest $200,000 annually to attract long-haul flights to Wellington.”

The council also said its blueprint will create “thousands of new jobs.” But as well as being silent about its long-haul ambitions, it’s also kept quiet on whether or not the employment part of its strategy is succeeding. There have however been reports of job losses, the latest from Te Papa, in spite of the annual financial support which it gets from the council. There’ve even been job losses at the council. And everyone seems to know public servants whose jobs have gone. Confusingly, however, there’ve been reports that job advertising has increased. Can the council take any credit for this? We don’t know, because after announcing its economic aims, the council has said no more.

It’s time for the council to report on the effectiveness of its economic blueprint. And also: it’s time for it to be reminded that the clock is ticking on the deadline which it set for direct flights to Asia from Wellington Airport. 28 days, to be precise.

 

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