Free parking at Whangārei Airport is coming to an end, with a $1 an hour charge from as early as next month.

A draft schedule of charges has been posted around the airport terminal building and the changes are expected to come into force around mid February.

Airport manager Mike Chubb said the airport has not had a lot of revenue streams to pay for expenses, especially investments in critical infrastructure, that were usually self-funded.

The airport is jointly owned by the Whangārei District Council and the government who contribute an equal sum for large investments such as renovations and upgrades to roads, buildings and the runway. There are 100 parking spaces at the airport.

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"The car park is overflowing and needs quite a bit of investment and that's been the trigger behind paid parking. At the moment, hangars and landing fees are the only charges we levy," Chubb said.

"A lot of people don't realise the car park needs a lot of money to maintain like putting in place CCTVs and markers, and they cost tens of thousands of dollars. We try not to charge but the reality is all airports in New Zealand charge for parking, even Kerikeri Airport does. Some people won't like it but at the end of the day, maintaining airports costs money."

He isn't sure how people will react to paid parking but says if the response is good, the car park can be increased in size and a separate area for long-term and cheaper parking put in place.

The first hour of parking will be free and $1 for each hour after that for a maximum of $10 per day. After seven consecutive days of paid parking, the charge will be reduced to $5 each day and no charge after 14 days.

"Overnight the car park is close to half full. Some people park and can be away for a month so it's not really fair that (airlines) pay for landing (fees) while motorists do not pay anything for parking," Chubb said.

He said equipment for paid parking has been ordered and was expected to be installed in the next few days.

But Whangārei grandmother and airport user Adrianne Allen said rates should cover public parking in places such as at the airport and at the Town Basin.

Adrianne Allen is against paid parking at Whangārei Airport and thinks rates should cover that expense. Photo/Imran Ali
Adrianne Allen is against paid parking at Whangārei Airport and thinks rates should cover that expense. Photo/Imran Ali

She often brings her grandchild to the airport to watch planes come and go and usually stays for a short period of time.

"A lot of people bring their children and grandchildren here and while I understand they have to maintain this place, we seem to be paying for everything," she said.