A new report is backing Hamilton airport's bid to become the stand-in runway in the event a disaster cripples Auckland International Airport.
The Hamilton airport company-commissioned report analyses the cost to the country if Auckland airport were closed, and calls on the Government to plan options in the national interest.
It describes Auckland airport as being of national significance, adding $53 million value to the economy daily or $19 billion a year. It generates 14 per cent of GDP and handles 12 million passengers a year.
The report said while Auckland airport has developed operational plans for a short term disruption, if it was non-operational for longer than 24 hours, it was likely other airports would have to help.
The paper analyses the suitability of other potential airport candidates, Whenuapai, Ohakea, Wellington and Christchurch, to be the country's primary alternate.
It proposes the use of Hamilton airport as the primary option for long-haul passenger and freight aircraft, including aircraft such as Boeing 767s and Airbus 330s, which contribute significantly more to the economy than short-haul aircraft. Christchurch airport would take any overflow, the report suggests.
Hamilton was best placed for the role because of its proximity to major North Island destinations, and its closeness to road and rail networks.
Its proximity to Mystery Creek Events Centre is also considered a bonus, as the centre is a designated Civil Defence site with space to process passengers, baggage, customs, aviation and biosecurity.
The airport has an agreement in principle with Mystery Creek.
The Waikato had more than 5000 beds within 60 minutes drive of the airport, it found.
The report builds on a proposal last year by airport company chairman John Birch for the airport to be recognised as a national asset in the event of a calamity at Auckland airport.
Mr Birch also proposed the Government loan the airport, owned by Waikato local councils, the money to extend its runway so it could be designated the primary alternate. The report puts the extension cost at $30m-$35m.
Hamilton airport has district planning approval to extend the runway to 2984m, and aeronautical master planning has been done out to 2030.
By spending $30m-$35m, Hamilton would have the runway length, apron space and infrastructure to support up to 70 per cent of the big jets that would daily serve Auckland.
Mr Birch said his airport's call for a risk analysis was a "no-brainer". It was not about Hamilton airport but about national infrastructure resilience.
The report, which cost "in excess of $50,000", did not quantify the risk.
The airport did not have the budget or capability for that job, which was the responsibility of the Government, he said.
"But people need to understand the consequences if Auckland International Airport was closed."
The report was prepared by Australasian corporate finance and strategic adviser Cranleigh, with analysis by consultancies Covec, Airbiz and Beca.
A Transport Ministry spokesman said the report's conclusions were being considered.
AUCKLAND OUT OF ACTION What the closure of New Zealand's largest airport could cost:
24- to 72-hour closure due to technical or traffic control failure, weather or runway/terminal incident: $53m to $159m export and import economic value would be at risk.
A one-week closure: 140,000 people affected, major freight and tourism disruption and a potential loss of $371 million.
A one-month closure: 620,000 people displaced, overloaded domestic relocation efforts, big freight problems and potential cost of $1.6 billion.
More than one month closure: 1 million people displaced, tourism industry in crisis, trade and business failures, long-term economic disruption.
- © Fairfax NZ News