Tarras, Central Otago. Image: Ulrich Lange
Christchurch Airport says it has secured land in Otago to build a new South Island airport.
The operator announced this afternoon that it was “about to begin discussions on the potential of building a world-class sustainable airport on 750 hectares of land near Tarras in Central Otago”.
Chief executive Malcolm Johns said the airport team was “pleased to have secured the land so it can begin discussions about its long-term thinking”.
The airport had spent $45m on the project so far, which included purchasing the land that bordered by state highways 8 and 8A.
“We now want to use our experience to ensure the South Island is well-positioned to take advantage of future aviation trends and remain well-connected to the rest of the world,” Johns said.
“Our top priority is a conversation with the people who live closest to the site – the Tarras community. This is their home and it’s important they are given the opportunity to ask us their questions directly and understand our thinking.”
Johns said the project team would consult with people across the South Island.
“We have a lot of work to do, but our current concept is to start with a 2.2-kilometre, jet capable runway. Building from scratch would enable us to design and build one of the world’s most sustainable airports. Our plan is to build in modules so we can start small and grow to meet any future need.”
Johns said Christchurch Airport had long seen the potential for a new airport in Central Otago.
“We’re an intergenerational company that has long seen the potential of a new airport in Central Otago. This would be make a real difference to future generations of South Islanders,” he said.
“This site is close to existing infrastructure and is easily accessible for a number of regions. Its topography would enable airlines to use their most sustainable aircraft.
“We’ll take a long-term approach and match our pace to both the growth in aviation and the needs of these communities and regions. We have the experience to ensure any new airport would be economically sound, enable jobs and meet the environmental and connectivity needs of the future.”
Christchurch Airport started working on the proposal before Covid-19 disrupted air travel globally.
“The virus doesn’t change too much of this proposal – except for timeframes,” Johns said.
“We are confident the central and southern South Island will always be a place where people seek to live, visit and work. We can now look beyond the status quo to talk about and plan for that future.
“This is an opportunity for all South Islanders to work together on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a piece of vital infrastructure, that is one of the most sustainable airports in the world and able to make a real difference for future generations.”
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