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Airport press release gives update on runway investigations

March 31, 2014

Media Release – Wellington Airport welcomes ANA 777 charter flight direct from Japan  

This morning Wellington Airport hosted a direct flight from Tokyo for a Japanese delegation who are visiting the Capital. The ANA charter flight is a Boeing 777-300ER which is a wide-body long haul aircraft.

Wellington Airport has previously catered for other wide-body aircraft such as the Qantas A330 during the Rugby World cup. While Wellington’s runway enables some long haul aircraft to land with a commercially viable load, the existing runway length limits the maximum available take-off weight.  The additional fuel required to reach long haul destinations means that the number of passengers and cargo are restricted on flights beyond Australia.

As announced last year, Wellington Airport is studying the options to extend the runway and is aiming to lodge the application for consent in early 2015.

“One of the first milestones we are working towards is to confirm the engineering feasibility of extending the runway.  So over the next three months engineering design and costs will be developed for options to extend north or south,” said Steve Sanderson, Wellington Airport’s Chief Executive.

“Extending the runway will enable direct long haul flights for Wellington’s existing market and open up growth opportunities not only for the region, but for New Zealand.”

“There are a number of economic development initiatives for Wellington in the pipeline; some are at the idea stage and others such as the conference centre are being further scoped. Direct international connections will support the potential and growth for these initiatives. Currently the lack of connections is constraining the region with negative flow on effects at a national level.”

An initial economic study showed compelling benefits from extending the runway and a further independent study has been commissioned into the economic impact for Wellington, the region and New Zealand.


There are many gates to go through, project streams and reports necessary before lodging the application for consent. Over the course of the year the airport will produce reports for the consenting process, including:

  •                 Economic benefit to Wellington, the region and New Zealand
  •                 Extension options that look at both north and south directions.
  •                 Engineering design and cost
  •                 Review of feasible alternative airport locations in the region
  •                 Ecological impact assessment
  •                 Noise, traffic and urban impact
  •                 Landscape assessment
  •                 Social, cultural and recreational impacts
  •                 Archaeological assessment

Once the airport has undertaken the comprehensive assessments and design it will initiate public wide consultation and feedback.

“It is expected that the proposed extension and impacts will be presented for public consultation later this year. We are looking forward to consulting with stakeholders, airlines, civic partners, our local community, businesses and the region.”


Background information on extension


Existing long haul market -. The Wellington long haul market is currently over 9,000 passengers per week and growing. A daily return service using a Boeing 787-8 aircraft with market average loads carries around 2,500 passengers per week – so Wellington has over three times the demand required for a long haul service. This current demand does not include the additional passenger growth you would see from having direct services.

Types of long haul aircraft – A moderate runway extension will minimise load restrictions for next generation aircraft and provide the commercial case necessary for an airline to serve Wellington. The lighter and more fuel efficient next generation aircraft such as the B787 and A350 enhance the commercial case for airlines to serve Wellington. These aircraft can reach long haul destinations with less fuel and carry more passengers and cargo. It was originally forecast that their performance levels would enable long haul flights off Wellington’s existing runway. However, now flying, their actual performance was not as favourable meaning they would still be load restricted and not commercially viable. There are around 1,700 next generation aircraft on order worldwide and they will be in operation for the next 15 to 20 years.

Impact of Newlands Ridge – The current and future aircraft fleet operating at Wellington will be less impacted by Newlands ridge. Aircraft can use new technology called Required Navigation Performance (RNP) which enables curved flight paths that avoid Newlands Ridge. This technology is already being used in Queenstown and Wellington with a trial underway in Auckland. The consenting process will further review the navigational requirements, which will be required for compliance with the Civil Aviation Authority.

Wellington Airport – Wellington’s airport is a major contributor to the regional economy. With 5.4 million passengers per year it contributes around $1.5 billion per year, employing about 1,500 people directly and sustaining nearly 10,000 full-time-equivalent jobs in the region.


Photos available on request. Enquiries to:


Greg Thomas

T +64 4 385 5148

M +64 21 430 435


From → Transport

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