Wairoa Airport is set for expansion, with the Wairoa District Council awaiting a report on extending its 914m sealed runway to take small jets.
Wairoa District Council CEO Fergus Power said the primary motivation was to accommodate Hawke's Bay's air ambulance service's Cessna Citation Mustang, expected to save lives through quicker and smoother flights.
Quieter inside than a commercial jet, its twin engines quickly lift it to still air for a comfortable flight and can retain sea-level air pressure to 21,000ft, of benefit to serious neurological or cardiac conditions.
"It is about providing the Wairoa community the same level of medical service and safety that the rest of Hawke's Bay is able to benefit from," Mr Power said.
"There is no need for Wairoa to have a sort of B-grade status in the region when we have a tremendous asset which, with a fairly modest investment, will have landing capability for jet aircraft."
He said if bigger planes were able to land it would be good safety net, should a natural disaster strike.
"The Hawke's Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group has recognised that of all of the districts throughout Hawke's Bay, Wairoa is the one with the highest risk of becoming isolated in the event of a major disaster such as what just happened in Kaikoura.
"We don't really have a navigable port so if our roading became unusable for an extended period then that airport becomes quite critical."
The runway extension has considerable economic development potential, including visitors to the satellite-launching Rocket Lab site in Mahia Peninsula.
"These people are often either in senior roles in satellite-manufacturing or satellite-ownership companies. If they can save transport time then they will be attracted to that. Having a direct flight from Auckland to Wairoa will be highly beneficial to those people and we have had expressions of interest from air carriers."
The Wairoa District Council owned enough land for a business park, should time-sensitive industries sought to be located beside an airport, and local businesses could also take advantage of air freighting for highly-perishable produce.
It could also boost tourism. The council has taken over the licence to occupy the former Wairoa Hawke's Bay Aeroclub and entered a joint venture with Radio Te Wairoa.
"We have established a larger capacity to broadcast Civil Defence communications via that radio station but one of the issues with that airport is previously it could be regarded as a comatose airport.
"If a light aircraft visited it was touch-and-go as to whether a human being was going to be on site.
"By inviting the radio station to partner their personnel can become the meet-and-greet carbon-based life form, helping visitors find transport, accommodation and introduce them to the wonders of Wairoa."
He said the airport was regarded as one of the best in New Zealand servicing a small population.
"It is very wide, quite long and has the capacity to be extended, so the airport runway could match the length of Gisborne's very easily.
"If you have just had a farm accident and your spine is in two pieces, I imagine you would think it was a very good investment."