Wanaka Airport - timeline

This timeline shows the order of significant events relating to QLDC's and QAC's plans to develop Wānaka Airport into a jet capable airport. You can scroll through the timeline, click for further detail and in many cases link out to the original news articles or web pages. ** PLEASE NOTE that where a specific date is not available or clear, we have used the first of the month in which that event took place.

Wānaka Stakeholders Group Inc. is a community organisation with nearly 3,500 members, seeking transparency, clarity and full community involvement around QLDC's and QAC's plans for Wānaka Airport.

2013-01-01 00:00:00

Wānaka Airport cannot take jets

Wānaka Airport cannot currently take commercial jet aircraft., but can take certain turbo-prop aircraft and smaller commercial and private aircraft.

2013-01-01 00:00:00

Air New Zealand ceases direct turboprop services to Wānaka

During 2013, direct services into Wānaka Airport are cancelled.

2016-04-20 00:00:00

The Astral Report

QLDC receives (but does not make public_ the Astral Report, from Astral Ltd, aviation consultants. There is nothing in the Astral Report which suggests rebuilding or expanding Wānaka Airport as a Code C jet capable airport. This report provides the basis for what is proposed for Wānaka Airport and summarised in the Statement of Proposal.

2016-09-19 00:00:00

The Rationale Report

QLDC obtains the Rationale Report, which provides a business case for the possibilities outlined in the Astral Report.

2016-10-08 00:00:00

Statement of Proposal published

QLDC publishes "Wānaka Airport - A Long Term Lease?" The statement of proposal outlines various scenarios for Wānaka Airport, including a long term lease on completely different terms to what is later proposed. There is no express mention of the underlying Astral Report or the business case by Rationale Limited.

2016-10-08 14:05:52

Jim Boult elected Mayor of QLDC

Businessman Jim Boult is elected as Mayor of QLDC for his first term.

2016-11-01 00:00:00

QAC reviews runway options

In the midst of the SOP process, the QAC board hosts a workshop with Arup consultants to review layouts and extended runway options for Wānaka Airport "to demonstrate the potential for Wānaka to support commercial aircraft operations."

2016-11-03 00:00:00

Secret Strategic Alliance Agreement between Queenstown and Auckland airports

QAC signs a secret Strategic Alliance Agreement with Auckland International Airport Ltd, which agreement expressly includes Wānaka Airport. The annual objectives are to be set by both companies, as are the annual objectives. The Strategic Alliance Agreement was not disclosed to QLDC at the time the lease was voted on. It appears that the full SAA has NEVER been disclosed the full Council of QLDC at any time prior to the judicial review brought by WSG.

2016-11-04 00:00:00

QAC buys land next to Wānaka Airport

QAC buys land next to Wānaka Airport for $6 million

2017-03-27 00:00:00

QAC buys more land next to Wānaka Airport

QAC buys a second parcel of land next to Wānaka Airport, meaning that they now own 150 hectares adjacent to the airport.

2017-04-01 00:00:00

QAC Arup Siting Study recommends jet runway

In April 2017, the QAC Arup Siting Study Report (not released until over two years later) recommends that Wānaka Airport is well suited to expansion to jet operations.

2017-04-20 00:00:00

QLDC decides to grant a long term lease to QAC

QLDC decides to grant QAC a long term lease. The Mayor, the CEO, Councillor McLeod and Councillor Hill are delegated the power to negotiate the lease (but on terms far different which was executed a year later by Jim Boult).

2017-05-18 00:00:00

Arup delivers 18 page jet airport report

Arup delivers to QAC an 18 page report laying out options for Code C and Code E jet aircraft operations at Wānaka Airport.

2017-06-05 00:00:00

Planned runway will impact Project Pure

Planned runway layouts submitted to QAC by Arup show that the safety strip for a jet runway would overlap with Project Pure. The public knows nothing about any impact on Project Pure at this stage, or indeed until the lease is made public in September 2019.

2017-10-12 00:00:00

QLDC receives jet runway plans

QAC provides QLDC plans for two possible alignments for a Code C jet runway, one where Project Pure is affected.

2018-01-08 00:00:00

Boult signs Heads of Terms for the lease

Mayor Boult signs Heads of Terms which signals decision to transfer control of Wānaka Airport to QAC. This decision was well beyond what Mayor Boult was in fact authorised to make.

2018-03-08 00:00:00

Memorandum of Lease signed

QLDC and QAC sign a "memorandum of lease", the terms of which are not disclosed to the public until September 2019. This is a "100 year lease" with perpetual rights of renewal, and includes the outright sale of all key assets at the airport (including runway, buildings, aprons etc) Importantly, the lease gives QAC responsibility for all future development of Wānaka Airport, and consent from QLDC is not required to develop the land. QLDC is given no ability under the lease to determine what future airport development QAC may or may not undertake. The terms of the lease are at odds with what was intended by Council in April 2017.

2019-04-29 00:00:00

Keel meets with WSG, confirms $400m spend

At a meeting between QAC's CEO Colin Keel and members of WSG, Mr Keel said that QAC would be spending NZ$300-400 million developing the airport, and that they would be looking to operate jets from Wānaka Airport.

2019-05-14 04:11:48

QAC's Wānaka rep Naomi Lindsay confirms $400m and international jets

Redeveloping Wanaka Airport to take passenger aircraft is estimated to cost between $300 million and $400 million. And international flights are a possibility. Queenstown Airport Corporation acting communications general manager Naomi Lindsay confirmed these details yesterday, describing the cost as ''a very high-level current cost estimate'' with ''significant work yet to do''. The cost of the proposed upgrade of Queenstown Airport as part of the dual airport operation was still being worked on, she said. In 2016, the Queenstown Lakes District Council bought 106ha of land so Wanaka Airport could be expanded. However, the existing sealed runway and other infrastructure is not suitable for the QAC's proposed scheduled domestic services, which would include narrow-body jets such as A320s, A321s and B737s.

2019-05-22 01:03:36

Wānaka's airport set to eclipse Queenstown's

Is Wanaka Airport destined to eclipse Queenstown Airport and become the country's fourth-largest airport? That question has been raised by the size of the proposed expansion of the passenger terminal at Queenstown Airport. The Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) has been considering either expanding the terminal or building a new one. In the QAC's newsletter on Friday, chief executive Colin Keel said the company was focused on ''expanding the current terminal infrastructure, rather than building a wholly new terminal''.

2019-07-25 01:03:36

WSG writes to ministers, PM

WSG writes a letter to the Hon Shane Jones and others, shortly after the funding announcement he made with regard to Invercargill Airport.

2019-07-28 01:03:36

QAC misleads the public on airport plans

It appears that Queenstown Airport Corporation’s PR department is now feeling the pressure of opposition building rapidly in the Wanaka community. But unfortunately that means that they’re prepared to go on record misleading the public in order to attempt to quell opposition. This week, our Chair wrote an open letter to Government, questioning how QAC’s development plans for Wanaka Airport tallied with central Government plans for regional development, tourism and the environment. You can read the full letter here. The letter was reported by the Wanaka Sun and the ODT. In yesterday’s ODT article, Sara Irvine, QAC’s newly appointed General Manager of Corporate and Community Affairs stated that QAC disagreed, saying “We are not planning a large-scale airport at Wanaka Airport”. She then went to say that Wanaka would be a regional airport, with a domestic schedule from “about 2025”, starting with “approximately five return services per day”. What Ms Irvine did not disclose is that the $300-400 million planned redevelopment of Wanaka Airport is squarely focussed on picking up the significant passenger movements which Queenstown Airport cannot accommodate. When you look into QAC’s own projections, the numbers are significant. The investment they are planning will require a significant amount of activity to show any decent return to shareholders. The airport they are planning for Wanaka is in fact large-scale. It is twice the area of the airport at Frankton.

2019-08-01 01:03:36

Boult to WSG: you are scaremongering

You are “scaremongering” was one of the many comebacks published in a letter from Mayor Jim Boult to Michael Ross of the Wanaka Stakeholders Group (WSG). It was a cutting letter — bordering on caustic — in response to the open letter that WSG had addressed to Minister Shane Jones.

2019-08-07 01:03:36

WSG writes to Mayor about legal action

This morning, Wanaka Stakeholders Group chair Michael Ross wrote to the Mayor of QLDC, advising of unsatisfactory responses to the community’s concerns about the Wanaka Airport development, and confirming that WSG has engaged solicitors and senior barristers and will issue judicial review proceedings if the matter is not resolved. It’s all laid out in detail in the letter, which we are making public here. If you agree with what’s written below and are currently not a member of Wanaka Stakeholders Group, please sign up. Our membership is growing by the hour, and is a clear sign that the people of Upper Clutha are seeking transparency, real consultation and a positive future for our community.

2019-08-08 00:00:00

Boult announces "pause"

Under significant community pressure, Mayor Jim Boult announces a "pause" at both Queenstown and Wānaka Airports while consultation and airport assessments are carried out.

2019-08-08 02:03:36

Historic joint statement from Upper Clutha community heads

In today’s Council meeting, and for the first time in history of Upper Clutha, in a significant move to hold the Council to account, four community associations made a joint statement to the Council.

2019-08-15 01:03:36

Mayor's "conflict of interest" called out

Queenstown Lakes District Council mayor Jim Boult is adamant that being chair of one of New Zealand’s largest tourism businesses is a conflict of interest he can manage. Former councillor Cath Gilmour has delivered a blistering critique of the council’s handling of Queenstown Airport Corporation’s legal Statement of Intent and its lack of strategic objectives…

2019-08-16 05:39:16

Call for Terms of Reference input

The public should have a say on the terms of reference for social and economic impact studies to be carried out in relation to the proposed expansion of Queenstown and Wanaka airports.

2019-08-21 05:39:16

WSG replies to Mayor's disappointing letter

On Monday, we received a fairly short (one page) letter in reply to a lengthy letter we wrote to Mayor Boult, outlining serious concerns about Wanaka airport, and asking for answers around numerous issues. Here is the response we’ve just sent the Mayor.

2019-08-22 05:39:16

QAC gains Requiring Authority status

Queenstown Airport Corporation has been granted Requiring Authority for “The operation, maintenance, expansion and development of the airport known as Wanaka Airport “ The authority, granted on 5 August, allows the corporation to, amongst other rights, compulsorily acquire private land for its projects.

2019-08-23 05:39:16

Agreeing SOI will be unlawful

WSG writes to Mayor and Councillors to say that agreeing the Statement of Intent on Monday would be unlawful.

2019-09-01 00:00:00

Boult finally releases Wānaka Airport lease

Under significant political pressure during the QLDC election, Jim Boult finally releases the Wānaka Airport lease to the public, and for the first time we see the extent of the control passed by QLDC to QAC, and also the impacts on Project Pure.

2019-09-10 10:11:17

Huge growth needed to make Wānaka Airport viable

A new report into the proposed Wanaka Airport expansion says it would need more than three million passenger movements a year to ensure a return on investment. The report was commissioned by the Wanaka Stakeholders Group to assess the activity levels that may result from the proposed $400 million investment. Report author Richard Somerville said passenger jets would have to take off and land every 10 minutes during a 12-hour day to cover costs and ensure an acceptable return rate. story info here

2019-09-17 10:11:17

WSG replies to Gilks' claims of misrepresentation

In reply to an opinion piece by former QAC Chair John Gilks who said that "misinformation" clouds the Wānaka Airport debate, WSG writes an open letter to Mr Gilks.

2019-09-17 10:11:17

Release of Wānaka Airport lease "cynical, election point-scoring move"

Wanaka Stakeholders Group Inc. Chair, Michael Ross, reacted to Mayor Boult’s announcement at a political event last night that he’d be releasing the 100 year lease over Wanaka Airport today, and its release late this afternoon, by saying “this is just too little, too late”. “This appears to be a cynical and calculated move by the Mayor to score points at the 11th hour in the election” said Mr Ross. “We have been asking for months for many details which the community should have access to, and the lease is only one of these numerous items.”

2019-10-01 00:00:00

WSG issues judicial review proceeding

WSG files documents with the High Court registry in Invercargill, kicking off the Judicial Review process.

2019-10-30 10:11:17

WSG files for judicial review

Wanaka Stakeholders Group Inc. has announced today that it has filed judicial review proceedings in the High Court. The group, now representing over 3,000 members of the Wanaka and Upper Clutha communities, has asked the High Court to review decisions made by Queenstown Lakes District Council to transfer substantial ownership and control of Wanaka Airport to Queenstown Airport Corporation, on the grounds that those decisions were both unlawful and unreasonable. QAC is also a respondent in the judicial review proceedings having regard to its role in acquiring the airport and the “lease”, and the adjoining land.

2019-11-26 10:11:17

Stop wasting money on airport

WSG urges QLDC to “stop wasting significant money” on airport reports ahead of High Court case

2019-12-01 00:00:00

Simon Upton publishes tourism report

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, publishes his comprehensive report: "Pristine, popular ... imperilled? The environmental consequences of projected tourism growth"

2019-12-20 10:11:17

WSG writes to councillors about tourism

This afternoon, we wrote to Mayor Boult and all QLDC Councillors, copying Community Board members, ensuring that they understand that Simon Upton’s report on the impact of tourism, released earlier this week, reflects many of the key concerns our members have been raising in relation to Wanaka Airport for many months.

2019-12-24 10:11:17

Wānaka people want clarity

Wānaka resident Noel Williams writes in the ODT that his fellow Upper Clutha residents want clarity about the future

2019-12-27 00:00:00

WSG launches "Tomorrow's Wānaka" animated video

WSG launches an animated video which outlines the issues relating to Wānaka Airport, and over the next few days receives massive media attention and thousands of individual views.

2019-12-28 15:06:35

TVNZ shows WSG airport video

TVNZ is one of numerous national media outlets who report on and share WSG's animated video.

2019-12-28 15:06:35

Wide body jets for Wānaka?

As we reach the half way point in the QLDC’s airport expansion consultation process, transparency is in short supply. So much so that QLDC won’t release to Crux a document that declares plans for wide bodied jets at Wanaka airport and the need to charge ratepayers for shifting wastewater facilities to make room for a new wider runway.

2020-02-10 15:06:35

Shambolic airport process

Lobby group Protect Wanaka has attacked the current airport expansion impact assessment process as being “stacked, lacking independence and lacking transparency.” In a letter to consultants MartinJenkins’ lead consultant Jason Leung-Wai, Protect Wanaka raises nine separate areas of concern, one of which highlights a statement from the consultants that assumes tourism growth is supported by the community.

2020-02-13 15:06:35

Calum McLeod's removal explained

Last week’s removal of the deputy mayor from the membership of Wanaka Stakeholders Group created a bit of a storm in a teacup. It was necessary housekeeping which we didn’t expect to make front page news, but Calum chose to go straight to the media to complain in open forum. We joined the conversation online to provide some missing perspective. There were very clear reasons for his removal, and he is well aware of them. Once we shared these reasons, the teacup went calm.

2020-02-18 15:06:35

Groups concerned about "broken" process

Five community groups representing thousands of Wanaka and Upper Clutha residents have described the Wanaka Airport consultation process as “broken and not fit for purpose”. Consulting firm MartinJenkins is conducting focus groups in Wanaka and Queenstown this week, relating to impact reports they are preparing for QLDC. The Chair of Wanaka Stakeholders Group, along with the chairs of community associations in Hawea, Luggate, Albert Town, Mt Barker and Cardrona, have made a joint statement calling out the consultation process as “deficient” and “unacceptable”. Participants were given only one weeks’ notice, with no detailed information being provided in advance of the sessions and the consultation framework unclear.

2020-02-24 20:21:51

Concerns about Martin Jenkins consultation

This afternoon, Wanaka Stakeholders Group Incorporated wrote to the lead consultant of MartinJenkins to raise additional and serious concerns about the online survey which they are running for QLDC, including security issues.

2020-02-25 20:21:51

Boult cautions councillors not to upset Auckland Airport

Mayor Jim Boult issued a stark warning to councillors today that moves to limit Queenstown airport growth could be challenged by Auckland airport as a minority shareholder. Mayor Boult added that the council would be “walking a dangerous path” in providing too much direction to the Queenstown Airport Corporation.

2020-02-26 20:21:51

Mayor talks to Auckland, but not us

WSG is “gobsmacked’ at the latest revelations from Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) Mayor Jim Boult. Mark Sinclair, deputy chair of Wanaka Stakeholders Group Inc, says that the Upper Clutha community is shocked and disappointed at the two separate statements made by the Council’s leader within 24 hours.

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