Our very own growing and expanding airport

By: Steve Morris

Straight from city council
A personal view,
by Councillor Steve Morris

Next month will see the beginning of a $12.7m project to more than double the size of the Tauranga Airport terminal.

This will be welcome news for travellers at peak times who are feeling the squeeze with annual passenger numbers now exceeding 300,000. Numbers are forecast to reach 400,000 within the next 10 years so we need to act now. That’s why we’re increasing the size of the terminal from 1700m2 to 3800m2 with separate check-in and arrival areas. There’ll be provision of space for bag screening should regulations change and this be required for regional aircraft; both the airport cafe and the Koru lounge will also be expanded.

As the airport activity (including the lease of airport industrial land) is ‘self-funding’ there will be no rates money spent on this project.

There’s been a bit of talk recently about the possibility of moving the airport to Paengaroa. However, this isn’t feasible within the next 30 years. The cost would be in excess of half a billion dollars and because of the ownership structure of the airport land and how it was acquired under the Public Works Act it is reasonably certain a disposal of the current airport land wouldn’t pay for new one.

Add to this the complete lack of appetite by Rotorua District Council to give up their airport (with the significant investment they’ve made there) and move to Paengaroa and the business case doesn’t stack up.