Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

Pilots push for delay to Wellington Airport runway extension hearing

A Jetstar Airbus A320 landing at Wellington Airport. Photo/Mark Mitchell
A Jetstar Airbus A320 landing at Wellington Airport. Photo/Mark Mitchell

Airline pilots want to delay a planning hearing regarding the extension on Wellington Airport's runway.

It follows the Court of Appeal decision ordering the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to reconsider its review of the 90-metre runway safety area for an extended runway.

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association has asked the Environment Court for an adjournment of the Resource Management Act consents process.

With the hearings set down for June, the association says it would be unfair to the 274 parties who have lodged submissions on the airport's consent applications for a runway extension.

It would be "inefficient" for the hearing to proceed, it said.

Parties would be expending considerable resources on a proposal which may be withdrawn or altered, the association says.

It wants the hearing to be adjourned until such time as the director of the CAA has made a decision and the airport has decided whether to abandon or modify its current application or proceed as it is.

Association president Tim Robinson said that pilots were not against growth of the airport.

"As we've consistently said, as commercial pilots and air traffic controllers, our members have much to gain from an increase in flights landing and leaving from Wellington Airport, but not at any cost, especially if that cost is to the safety of passengers, local people, and airport staff," Robinson said.

Wellington Airport wants to extend its runway by 350m to handle large long-haul aircraft from Asia and the United States.

The airport said it was still considering next steps after the Court of Appeal ruling and make an announcement in "due course."

The airport said Tuesday CAA had formerly approved Wellington's 90m safety area as fully compliant and fully appropriate for Wellington Airport's proposed extension. Many airports around the country have 90m safety areas.

Chief executive of Wellington International Airport, Steve Sanderson, said it was too early to say what the affect of the decision was.

"We are yet to review the judgement in detail, but we are disappointed the Court of Appeal has overturned the original High Court decision," he said.

"We will discuss next steps with the Civil Aviation Authority, which is the principal defendant."

- NZ Herald

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