Linking The Long White Cloud

New Zealand’s air links are the only rapid transit option for our long, thin country.

Communities up and down our islands rely on air transport to bring in people and supplies, and ensure timely access to healthcare, education and commerce opportunities.

Our airstrips and aerodromes are also an essential part of our disaster response. A functioning airport is necessary to ensure that when emergency hits, our civil defence crews can access isolated areas.

Yet our country’s smallest airports are facing an unprecedented funding crisis. The level of investment required to maintain minimum safe standards in this part of the national transport network simply cannot be met from commercial revenues. The shortfall is met by the airport’s operators, chiefly local councils.

At a time when local government in New Zealand is looking to prioritise its spending on essential services such as local roads, water and waste, the burden on ratepayers to subsidise airports is becoming too great.

NZ Airports is the representative body of New Zealand airports.

Collectively we feel that the current statutory framework is no longer fit for purpose for small airports. Specifically, the imperative to operate as a commercial entity simply cannot apply to airports whose passenger numbers are too low to generate necessary revenue.

  • We are calling for a change of approach by central government.
  • We are calling for a recognition of the social and economic benefits that airports bring to isolated communities.
  • We are calling on government to allocate dedicated funding to isolated airports.
  • We are calling for equality with other forms of transport in the national funding mix.

In this paper we put forward the rationale and mechanism by which government could fund a national minimum standard of airport infrastructure, and ensure essential services.