Wellington Scoop

NZ will benefit by $2billion from longer runway, claims airport report

airport longer runway

Media release from Wellington Airport
Wellington Airport today released draft reports which assess the effects of the runway extension project, including a Benefit Cost Analysis which predicts a net economic benefit for the country of $2 billion, and commenced the start of public consultation.

The public consultation process will enable everyone to get a thorough understanding of the project and provide feedback to the Airport before the application to extend the runway is finalised.

Wellington Airport Chief Executive Steve Sanderson said “enabling long haul flights and growing Wellington’s connectivity to the rest of the world is imperative to our visibility and economic growth.”

“When Wellington extended its runway in 1972 to enable jet services to Australia there was much public debate about whether the benefits and costs stacked up, but we now have up to 70 return international flights per week and the benefits are well established. Imagine where Wellington might be today if that hadn’t happened.”

“With a $2 billion net benefit for the country, it means for each dollar spent on lengthening the runway there would be a national benefit of around $7.”

“This significant national economic benefit, combined with previous confirmation on the market viability for overseas airlines, provides a very high level of confidence to proceed with the application for consent.”

Extending the runway by way of a reclamation, approximately 330 metres into the Coastal Marine Area, will open up direct links for long haul aircraft to Asia and North America within 12 ½ hours flying time. The extension will meet today’s market demand and stimulate growth in tourism plus deliver more efficient business travel and freight services. It will save long haul travellers time and money.

The forecast long haul flights would see a daily long haul service in 2021 growing to 4 flights per day by 2035 as Wellington positions itself to become part of the transformative growth expected in Asia. The international visitor growth for New Zealand is forecast be an additional 125,000 visitors per year by 2035 growing to 200,000 per year by 2060.

The project has had strong local support, with surveys indicating up to 80% of locals say “yes” to direct connections to Asia and North America. The Wellington business and tertiary community is also firmly behind the wider proposal.

Wellington Airport has assessed the environmental effects arising from the project and the draft reports released today identify a range of effects that are likely to arise as a result of the construction and operation of the proposed runway extension. Where adverse effects have been identified, recommendations have been made on how to best manage or mitigate these.

“We’ve been talking with our neighbours, recreational groups and Iwi throughout the project’s development. The feedback from the public is very important to us. We want to continue to engage openly with all of our stakeholders.”

The Airport will consider everyone’s feedback before finalising the assessment reports and lodging applications for consent with the Regional and City Councils. The Council’s will publicly notify the applications, and an opportunity to make formal submissions will be available to those having an interest in the project. A request will then be made by Wellington Airport to directly refer the application to the Environment Court. If this request is accepted, the Environment Court would then run the consent hearing.

The public consultation period is from today till Friday 12 February.

There will be three open day session at different times where people can meet one-on-one with the experts who undertook the assessment reports and ask questions.

Background information

The draft reports indicate there will be effects from construction noise and traffic as well as impacts on visual amenity/ landscape and surf. However, recommendations have been made how to manage or mitigate them.

Marine ecology and coastal processes

NIWA has studied the effects on the coastal environment and assessed there would be no significant or lasting effects on the bird, marine mammal and fish life in the immediate area of the extension. NIWA considered the risk of any adverse effects on water quality during construction to be low. Erosion and sediment control measures built into the construction methodology will be used to manage the environmental risk from sea-bed disturbances.

Landscape and urban design

The runway will have a low profile and the visual impacts diminish with distance. Thegreatest visual impact will be closest to the runway on the eastern side by Moa Point. Subject to Council agreement, a new three metre wide shared (walking and cycling) path from Lyall Bay Parade along the west side of Moa Point Road to a new lookout point at the existing breakwater has been proposed. The breakwater area will be reworked to provide a lookout area and seating. At Moa Point Beach it is proposed to reinstate a beach form in the corner where the runway meets the curving beach. This will include enhanced ecological habitat for colonisation by marine life. A gateway landform, in conjunction with the landscape treatment at the beach, will also be introduced at the intersection of the airport road and Moa Point Road. The space within the tunnel underpass will be fitted with brighter lights to
improve the visibility of path users to traffic and improve their experience.

Lyall Bay surf and swimming

Wellington Airport has been in discussion with the board riders and surf club community regarding the potential effect on Lyall Bay surf quality. Modelling and assessments by Danish Hydrological Institute (DHI) predicts the project would not cause a noticeablereduction in wave height or surfability at the main surf area known as “The Corner”, but doespredict a decrease in the rideable waves in the middle and west of the bay. It is proposed to introduce a submerged wave focusing structure designed to mitigate and potentially improve the surf conditions in this area. DHI have confirmed that Lyall Bay is an ideal location for the structure and unlike an artificial reef, the wave focusing structure is comprised of a rock formation located in the middle of Lyall Bay about 500m out to sea. It will assist with focusing the incoming swell and create peaks that will deliver longer wave rides. The DHI report does not predict any adverse effects in terms of beach safety or swimming.


The Airport has been in early consultation with Iwi and there are no Maori sites of significance that will be affected directly. The historic Moa Point is located beneath the current runway. Historically the area has seen finds of taonga (carved stone and bone items) along with Moa bones and an accidental discovery protocol will be in place during the construction.


The methodology involves constructing a full section rock dyke around the perimeter of the reclamation and protecting it with Accropods. Once the rock dyke is in place, filling of the reclamation would commence. The reclamation will then go through a period of settlement before the tarmac is laid on top. It is estimated to take up to three years to construct.

Construction traffic

The consent application will seek permission for the materials required for the reclamation to be delivered by land and water, or a combination of the two. The main land traffic-generating activity will be the delivery of materials to site – potentially from existing quarries located at Kiwi Point (Ngauranga Gorge) and Horokiwi (south of Petone). Transport through local suburbs will be during weekday, off-peak times only and there will be up to 60 trucks an hour operating. The roads around the airport have a capacity of between 1400-1800 vehicles per hour.

Construction noise

The construction noise assessment shows all work will generally be within acceptable limits, with the exception of night-time periods for certain construction phases. A Construction Management Plan will contain the principles and requirements relating to management of noise to engage with the local community. Should the extension go ahead Moa Point residents will have the option to receive insulation for their property to mitigate construction noise and can sell their property at “pre-extension value” to Wellington Airport, in addition to the recently offered $10,000 solatium payment.

Public consultation and open days

The public consultation period is from Wednesday 25 November to Friday 12 February.
Three public open days will be held where people can meet one-on-one with the experts who undertook the assessment of effects and ask questions:

– Wednesday 2 December from 12pm to 3pm
Chaffers Dock Function Centre, Wellington City

– Thursday 3 December from 5pm to 8pm
SPCA Fever Hospital, Mt Victoria

– Saturday 5 December from 12pm to 3pm
Brentwood Hotel Conference Centre, 16 Kemp St, Kilbirnie

All project information regarding the consultation, including all reports and how to provide feedback, is available at www.connectwellington.co.nz


  1. Ian Apperley, 25. November 2015, 9:56

    Wellington Airport: Invest $1 and get $7 back. In forty-five years. Yeah. That makes sense.

  2. banana, 25. November 2015, 10:42

    @ Ian – yep – it does…Inflation at 2% will give you $2.39. The runway gives three times inflation.

  3. Traveller, 25. November 2015, 10:58

    Who receives this financial reward? Is it an annual payout? A one-off calculation?

  4. Southcoaster, 25. November 2015, 11:15

    There is a lot of big-talking by the airport today about how wonderful the runway extension will be. You have exactly one week to read all 27 reports, partly paid by us ratepayers, and then go to the public ‘consultation’ days with the airport next week to ask questions.

    85% of submissions in the LTP were against the runway extension so I’d be very interested to see how they can claim that 80% of Wellingtonians are supporting it. The Guardians of the Bays havve raised some very pertinent, unanswered (despite 27 reports paid for by us ratepayers!) questions:

    * How much will it ACTUALLY cost?
    * Who will pay?
    * Where’s the airline that will fly here long-haul?
    * Where will it fly to?
    * What happens to landing fees seeing the airport will increase its asset base?
    * What happens to the public investment (7x what the airport is willing to put in) if the airport decides to sell it after it’s built?
    * A $2b best case profit scenario by 2060 doesn’t sound so great. What are the implications from/on climate change by then? Will it just become a stranded asset with its main access road inundated by sea level rise?
    * The pilots say that it’s too dangerous to fly long-haul without an extra safety zone which would double the cost. Where is that addressed?
    * How much weight can you put on reports commissioned by the airport, for the benefit of the airport, without independent peer review?
    * Where is the business case? This is not a business case etc…

  5. ALANA, 26. November 2015, 22:52

    $2billion over what period of time? And of that amount, will the government provide public transport, or simply allow more taxis?