Close Queenstown Airport, leave Wanaka Airport alone and build a new international airport to serve Central Otago and the Lakes District somewhere else.

That was an idea floated by Air New Zealand last year and now to be put to a public meeting in Frankton on April 29.

A member of the group behind the meeting, Kelvin Peninsula Community Association chairman David Mayhew, described the idea yesterday as ''blue sky thinking''.

While a site for a new airport had not been determined, Mayhew mentioned Tarras.


''There's quite a lot of good land around there that could be utilised for a big airport, as I understand it, around Maori Point.

''But that wouldn't be the only possibility, I guess.

''We haven't focused too much on that.

''But there is better land than the current airport.''

Mr Mayhew said when considering the growth of the region, it was ''inevitable'' Queenstown Airport was in the wrong place.

''Why spend more money on that location now, and why spend more money on upscaling Wanaka Airport, if down the line you are going to have to move anyway.''

Mr Mayhew said the genesis of the idea was the Frankton masterplanning process which ''ran up quite quickly against what we refer to as the 'elephant in the room' which is the airport''.

Urban designers Gillian Macleod and David Jerram will present a plan to the meeting showing how the Queenstown Airport land might be used, if the airport was removed.

Asked about who would lead the new airport proposal, Mr Mayhew said the community ''has to drive the thinking''.

''Because at the moment, all the authorities are stuck in their particular silos.

''If the community thinks this is a good idea, then it might persuade the local politicians and indeed the national politicians to think about it.''

Last year, an Air New Zealand spokeswoman suggested a new airport needed to be considered as a better option than the Queenstown Airport Corporation's ''dual airport'' plan to expand Queenstown and Wanaka Airports.

And, Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon said it was time to have ''a bigger, bolder, braver conversation about creating a new Central Otago airport''.

Luggate Community Association chairman Graeme Perkins said yesterday it was ''great to see some serious thinking outside the square''.

''Naturally Luggate would be relieved if Wanaka Airport was taken off the list of possibilities, and a whole new re-think along the lines of Mr Mayhew's proposal were initiated.''

Wanaka Stakeholders Group convener Michael Ross said the group's proposal was ''bigger than Texas'' but deserved debate.

''If it were able to be pulled off, it would be of huge benefit to the whole environment in Queenstown as well as to Wanaka.''

However, Mr Ross said his group was not ''getting into'' that debate, and was more focused on determining tourism limits for the region.

- Otago Daily Times