About 300 people packed into St Paul's Church hall in Paraparaumu for Tim Costley's Save Kāpiti Airport meeting on Tuesday.
Templeton Group, who own Kapiti Coast Airport, as part of the wider NZPropCo, are looking at all options regarding the ongoing operation of the airport after citing economic and safety issues.
Costley, National's candidate for the Ōtaki electorate, made headlines recently when he suggested the airport could close.
Templeton Group, who only acquired the airport in December as part of a portfolio sale by previous owner Todd Property Group, has emphasised that no decision had been made to close the airport but all options for the airport's future were being reviewed.
Guest speakers included Kāpiti mayor K Gurunathan, Air Chathams' Adrian Ali, George Jenkins from Ngāti Puketapu, Kapiti Aero Club president Tony Quayle, Sounds Air operations manager Jesse Wood, and Kapiti Chamber of Commerce chairwoman Jacinda Thorn. Templeton Group were invited but didn't attend.
The crowd heard about the importance of the airport from a wide range of factors including economic, Civil Defence, medical, future growth, flying, convenience and connectivity as well as ownership grievances from when the land was taken from people under the Public Works Acts in the late 1930s for aviation purposes and sold by the National government to a private company in the mid-1990s without offer back provisions.
Costley told the crowd he had been trying to save the airport "since I received reports that the airport owners want to shut it down and cease operations from about September 10".
But the community had rallied and "we have won a stay of execution" and "we've got roughly until Christmas".
"Now it's about fighting for the longer-term future."
Gurunathan said Plan Change 73, created a few years ago, before Templeton Group took over, had been sold on the premise that commercial buildings created and leased on the airport would support the ongoing aviation operations.
But land for sale in the Kapiti Landing commercial area was "a breach of the plan change".
He had told Templeton Group that if they wanted a relationship with the community, and council help to "create a fantastic vision for us" then "the first thing you should do is take those properties off Trade Me" which would be an "act of good faith".
Selling land was "undermining the ability of the airport to be sustainable".
Thorn said Templeton Group had been asked many times about their vision for the airport "and they are never clear with us".
The chamber's vision was seeing the airport as a thriving hub, a vital link to the main centre, and a place where people from further afield choose to travel from.
"We want to encourage the owners to look at the long-term potential and not focus on the immediate numbers."
Coastlands chief executive Richard Mansell said he had talked to Templeton Group and been told the airport was currently unprofitable and required a large amount of maintenance soon.
"If and when we get it back, who's going to run it, and who's going to make those losses from then on, or how can we make a profit?"
Thorn said the chamber felt the solution was to "keep the airport and redevelop the fringes".
"We can have more retail around the edges.
"It's a huge space."
She said Templeton Group wasn't looking at the long-term value to the region.
"They dispute the figure of a $4 million plus return to Kāpiti, they believe it's more in the $125,000 to $200,000 region because they're simply counting landing fees.
"And in the profit figure they're not including the rent they get from Mitre 10, New World and all those other big developments that have already happened."
Costley said the figures he was given showed the airport did make a profit "but it's only making six figures and they [Templeton] like the seven figure sum".
Paul Harris, former chief executive Kapiti Aero Club, said there was enough land at the airport that could be developed commercially and "still leave the airport as a functional airport".
Quayle said Templeton Group was doing a geotechnical survey of the airport "to see what they would be dealing with if they were building houses".
He felt the airport needed to be "put into some form of secure community ownership".