22 Jul 2020

Christchurch Airport is considering building a world-class sustainable airport on 750 hectares of land near Tarras in Central Otago.

It has bought land between State Highway 8 and State Highway 8A and is about to begin discussing its ideas for the airport with the Tarras community.

“We have a lot of work to do, but our current concept is to start with a 2.2-kilometre, jet capable runway. Building from scratch would enable us to design and build one of the world’s most sustainable airports. Our plan is to build in modules so we can start small and grow to meet any future need,’’ says Christchurch Airport Chief Executive Malcolm Johns.

The airport has spent about $45 million on the project so far, which includes purchasing the land.

“The expenditure was budgeted and will not impact on Christchurch Airport’s operational dividends to shareholders,’’ Mr Johns says.

Christchurch Airport is 75 per cent owned by Christchurch City Holdings Limited – the commercial arm of Christchurch City Council. The Crown owns the other 25 per cent of the company.

 Mr Johns says Christchurch Airport has long seen the potential for a new airport in Central Otago.

“We’re an intergenerational company that has long seen the potential of a new airport in Central Otago.  This would be make a real difference to future generations of South Islanders.

 “This site is close to existing infrastructure and is easily accessible for a number of regions. Its topography would enable airlines to use their most sustainable aircraft.

“We’ll take a long-term approach and match our pace to both the growth in aviation and the needs of these communities and regions. We have the experience to ensure any new airport would be economically sound, enable jobs and meet the environmental and connectivity needs of the future.”

Mr Johns says Christchurch Airport started working on the proposal before COVID-19 disrupted air travel globally. 

“The virus doesn’t change too much of this proposal – except for timeframes. We are confident the central and southern South Island will always be a place where people seek to live, visit and work. We can now look beyond the status quo to talk about and plan for that future.

“This is an opportunity for all South Islanders to work together on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a piece of vital infrastructure, that is one of the most sustainable airports in the world and able to make a real difference for future generations,’’ Mr Johns says.