Plan to double airport terminal size

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 11:30 11/10/2012
Marlborough airport
The airport operators propose to put a 15-20 seat meeting room and a lounge in the mezzanine floor
Marlborough airport
The airport operators propose to put a 15-20 seat meeting room and a lounge in the mezzanine floor

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The company that runs Marlborough Airport plans to double the size of the terminal building.

Airport manager Dean Heiford said yesterday that consultation had started with airport tenants and others about a proposal to expand the terminal, doubling the ground floor area of the building and putting in a mezzanine floor.

The airport operators propose to put a 15-20 seat meeting room and a lounge in the mezzanine floor, he said. It was talking to Air New Zealand to gauge interest in providing a Koru Club lounge.

Mr Heiford said the airport company got a lot of requests to hold meetings at the airport.

"There will be increased retail space downstairs. Air New Zealand and others would like more space."

No decisions had been made on how the expansion would be funded, he said. Potential earnings from licenses and leases were being assessed, and there had been no discussions about a departure tax or other levy being imposed to pay for it.

The airport company is owned by MDC Holdings, a company owned by the Marlborough District Council.

Mr Heiford said the expansion plans were just for the terminal building. Expanding the runway was too expensive, and the board had not looked at any proposals around that.

The runway was long enough for the planes that were likely to use it, he said. Boeing 737s had landed at Blenheim before, carrying people here for specific events, but it would not be viable for airlines to fly them in as part of a regular service.

"An ATR or Q300 every couple of hours would be more than useful and we have more than enough room to have those on the runway."

Mr Heiford said that with Air New Zealand's purchase of between seven and 12 new-generation ATR72-600 aircraft for regional services, the Q300 planes could replace the Beech 1900D planes being used on routes between Blenheim, Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch now.

"They've got to send the Q300s somewhere. It would be nice if the Q300s came here more often."

The Beech 1900D carries 19 passengers, while the Q300 planes carry 50, and an ATR carries 68.

Air New Zealand indicated in a press release last year that the introduction of the new planes would see a "cascade" effect of different planes on regional routes.

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Air New Zealand group general manager Australasia Airline Bruce Parton said the new ATR 72-600 aircraft would give the airline "the means to up-gauge" Q300 routes that would require more capacity in the future.

"In turn, this will release Q300 aircraft to up-gauge on some Beech 1900D-operated routes, enabling us to look at start-up routes. So there is benefit in bringing in the larger turbo-props and cascading growth down throughout our regional operation.”

- The Marlborough Express

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