Airshow set to fight fee

Organisers behind Omaka's Classic Fighters airshow could seek help from Marlborough's air traffic controllers if forced to pay increasing radio fees on show-day.

As reported in yesterday's Marlborough Express National air traffic control company Airways New Zealand is introducing a service fee for all general aviation that radios in when flying through controlled air space, such as that above Omaka, but it is not yet known how that will affect the next airshow in 2015.

The new call fee will start at $1 from July 1 and will grow to $2 after one year and up to $3.55 in 2015 for all planes that fly directly north from Omaka or those that go above 1500 feet before exiting the controlled air space to the south.

Omaka Classic Fighters Airshow organising committee chairman Graham Orphan said he was not yet certain if this would have an effect on the biennial airshow but was confident things would go ahead "just fine". "It won't have a major effect on the air show, it's only held once every two years.

"We've got a great relationship with the town's air traffic controllers and they've always been conscious of the needs of the airshow in the past, so at a local level we've been very fortunate."

The fees might be more of a problem for the ongoing operation of heritage aircraft in the area in general, Mr Orphan said.

He had not yet been in contact with Airways NZ to see if the airshow would be stung with fees but would likely seek some form of concession if it was.

"We already have significant user charges as people who love to fly - if it was cheaper everyone would be doing it - but we manage that by cutting back on other things in life."

The Marlborough Express