Wellington Scoop

Longer runway not priority for city businesses – council survey

News from Guardians of the Bays
Wellington’s parking and transport are bigger challenges to Wellington businesses than lack of international capacity via Wellington International Airport, according to the Wellington City Council’s 2016 Survey of Wellington Businesses.

Richard Randerson, co-chair of broad-based residents’ group Guardians of the Bays, says the survey is further evidence that Wellington Airport’s proposed runway extension is not the silver bullet Wellingtonians have been promised.

“The Airport and the City Council have been promising ratepayers that long-haul flights into Wellington will create more business opportunities for local companies, but this survey shows that businesses are wise to the real issues – and accessibility within the city is a much bigger concern.

“The survey also shows that over 90 percent of business do not feel disadvantaged by a lack of business opportunities or the size of the local market.”

Mr Randerson added that the City Council had been quick to give the Airport Company $3million of ratepayer money last year to help scope its resource consent application even though their own 2014 research showed just 10 percent of local businesses thought more international flights into the capital would provide advantages.

“We are now looking to the next generation Council and we are seeing the majority of mayoral candidates ignoring the red flags and maintaining that the return on a $90 million investment in the runway extension will be beneficial for the city.

“This report shows businesses don’t feel the need for it; 525 of 776 public submissions opposed the Airport’s resource consent application last month and Infratil, the Airport’s majority shareholder, isn’t prepared to put forward funds in line with its shareholding. These are warning signs that the business case will not be robust and they are being ignored.”

The report also shows the costs of being a Wellington business are forcing some companies to consider relocating or closing down.

“Wellington businesses already pay 46 percent of rates despite only occupying 21 percent of rentable property.[1] A number of the mayoral candidates are building their campaigns on the promises of costly white-elephant projects, like the runway extension, and not properly addressing the follow-on impact on rates for businesses and residents.”

City Council’s “on track” spin on survey


  1. Justine Beattie, 8. September 2016, 20:45

    About time those of us running businesses and paying huge rates bills were listened to. The runway extension and things like light rail will cost us way too much. I’m especially worried about Nick Leggett who is very keen on building the runway.

  2. Trevor, 8. September 2016, 21:43

    The runway extension is a total nonsense economically as most businesses realize. Inbred parochialism at its most stupid.

  3. CC, 8. September 2016, 21:43

    Justine – businesses don’t pay rates – they pass on the costs to their clients who do. You must have been listening to John Milford for too long.

  4. Dr Sea Rotmann, 8. September 2016, 23:24

    This really needs to be publicized more. The Chsmber of Commerce and Airport keep crowing that 80% of businesses support the extension. Their numbers are highly misleading and involve only a tiny proportion of the 26K businesses in the region, and using extremely leading questions. It’s very telling that only a few dozen businesses think this to be an actual issue. Especially seeing they’d be paying disproportionately for the Council’s folly, in business and residential rates and taxes.

  5. Trish, 9. September 2016, 9:25

    @CC: Most businesses pay rent based on bargaining with several building owners. Have you noticed how many For Lease signs there are across town? The building owners take home what’s left after paying running costs, maintenance, earthquake strengthening and rates. There is no way, in this market, that a landlord could pass rate rises onto a business. Similarly, shops, small accountants and startup computer business can’t expect their customers to pay more just because the rates have gone up. That’s why no new office buildings have been built in Wellington for years. other than flash glass towers for lawyers and big accounting firms.

  6. Helene for mayor, 9. September 2016, 9:33

    The $350m -$500m (approx) runway extension causing soaring rates will be a white elephant – – detrimental to all ratepayers; and to the Wellington business economy – made up primarily of small businesses. The survey went even further and specifically asked the small businesses whether they thought that the lack of international capacity of the Airport was a challenge to them. Only 8% said they thought it was.

    Apparently there are some 26.000 small businesses in Wellington.

    All ratepayers – residential and commercial – would see dramatic rises in rates because no one else has agreed to pay for this. it would increase Council debt on our children. Worse -it would impact on our Wellington economy detrimentally, as the small businesses would have to pay the increased rates for this unnecessary, unjustified unwanted runway extension.

  7. CC, 9. September 2016, 10:23

    Trish – you seem to confirm the argument that businesses don’t pay rates – they pass on the costs to their clients. You say “the building owners take home what’s left after paying running costs….” and that includes rates. The rates component is part of the rental. The exception, as you say, may be when a landlord does not have a tenant.

  8. Michael, 9. September 2016, 10:54

    The idea of an airport extension with all its impacts should not be buried in an Environment Court case pushed through by WIAL’s major shareholder, it should be at the forefront of the election campaign, and deliberated by the rate payers.