A row is brewing over replacement emergency services at the airport, following the air force withdrawal of cover out of hours.
Some councillors have highlighted the potential shortcomings, and Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman has criticised Air New Zealand's apparent lack of concern.
The issue was raised at a public meeting of mayoral and Wairau-Awatere ward candidates in Renwick on Wednesday night.
Mr Sowman said the thing that surprised him the most about the removal of emergency services was that Air New Zealand supported the removal.
"They're happy for a guy on a motorbike with a fire extinguisher to handle things . . . It absolutely defies belief."
He said he had talked about possible options with airport manager Dean Heiford.
The council did not believe the arrangement where Renwick's volunteer fire brigade provided emergency cover for incidents after 5pm was satisfactory.
"We're spending money to extend the terminal and no fire service there is unbelievable."
He said the council was working with the air force and the Government now to find a satisfactory solution.
The service didn't need to be 24 hours a day, but just the hours of flights at the airport, from 5pm till the airport shut.
Information from Marlborough Airport company showed there were 262 aircraft movements to and from the airport during a seven-day week, with 230,000 passengers through the airport each year.
Using next week as an example, there were 21 flights at 5pm or later during the week.
Councillor Peter Jerram said he thought that he had misheard things when the change was announced.
"I couldn't believe that the Government would want to remove an emergency service from the aircraft that come here.
"If an aircraft comes here and crashes after 5pm, we've got to wait for the volunteers from Renwick to get here.
"By the time that happens, it's all go, too late - we're all burnt up by the time they turn up."
He said Marlborough needed to do some serious lobbying.
That would have to include Kaikoura MP Colin King.
New candidate Bev Doole said volunteer firefighters were pressured and it was unfair for them to be asked to take on more work.
"It's pretty obvious this is an area of central Government cutbacks affecting local government funding and services."
However, Mr King said it was hard to justify having so much fire coverage in Marlborough.
He was aware of the issue and there had been discussions around it but he had not done anything about it in the short term.
The air force fire brigade had been a strategic asset to the airport but its use was hard to justify, Mr King said.
"If a rural fire force is available, it is hard to justify having 24/7 coverage at Woodbourne."
- The Marlborough Express