Air Nelson to be given leeway over expansion

21:38, Feb 17 2009

The Nelson Airport company says it is willing to be flexible over the wishes of Air New Zealand Link carrier Air Nelson, which is looking to expand its Nelson base.

The national carrier is considering investing tens of millions of dollars to develop infrastructure in Nelson, including a maintenance hangar for Air Nelson's fleet of Q300 aircraft which are too large for the existing facility.

The airline has also been eyeing up taking over the former Origin Pacific terminal, although Air Nelson general manager John Hambleton has said the current layout of the building would not work for the company.

He said the business case now being developed was reliant on lease affordability of Nelson Airport land.

Nelson Airport company chairman Ian Kearney said several discussions had taken place between the airline and the airport company, which had indicated it was willing to be flexible.

"One of the problems with the existing hangar is it's not ideal for their purposes and they have to build a new one, and run existing operations in the interim," Mr Kearney said.


He said the company had been looking at options with the airline as to whether a new hangar would be separate or adjacent to the current one.

"In considering rental we would look at a total package of Air New Zealand's occupancy on the airport," Mr Kearney said.

The Tasman district and Nelson city councils are shareholders in the airport company.

Nelson City Council chief executive Viesturs Altments said that from the local authority's point of view, Air Nelson was extremely important to Nelson's economy. Within the bounds of commercial reality, the council would be "very supportive" of a move to expand the airline's base.

"By the same token, any airport has commercial imperatives," Mr Altments said.



The Nelson Mail