The end of the runway could be in sight for a number of struggling regional airports throughout New Zealand.

However, the Government is considering extending a helping hand to the cash-strapped airports, many of which it has a stake in.

New Zealand Airport Association chief executive Kevin Ward said around a dozen regional airports had been labelled non-commercial.

Those "at risk", he said, were Kaitaia, Kerikeri, Whangarei, Whakatane, Taupo, Whanganui, Masterton, Westport, Hokitika, Timaru and the Chatham Islands.

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Before the last election, the association said unlike road and rail, regional aviation had no "specific policy framework or funding support mechanisms".

''Larger regional airports, together with the international airports they feed into, have sufficient revenue to fund their operations.

"But over the past two decades, smaller regionals and isolated airports have slipped into the realm of being non-viable as commercial entities."

However, the Government is considering providing struggling airports with funds out of the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), Stuff reported.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones. Photo / Stephen Parker
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones. Photo / Stephen Parker

It's understood ministers controlling the PGF opposed the lifeline suggestion, new work was being undertaken to find a solution.

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones told the Herald regional mayors are welcome to make pitches to the PGF to try and score some funds.

"I am being lobbied incessantly … by regional identities such as the Mayor of Taupo," he said.

"So I have encouraged them to tart up their proposals, submit them so the PGF can look at the merits and demerits of such proposals.

"I don't want to arrive at the next election where all I have accomplished is to have received a policy migraine in the form of bureaucratic advice that encourages to do nothing".

Stuff reported the Ministry of Transport is looking at its options, including a contestable fund, with the PGF still accepting proposals from individual airports.

Ward said airports including Kerikeri, Gisborne and Westport had all benefited from one-off PGF backings for capital works.

Chatham Islands airport also has an application into the fund for a runway extension which would allow it to handle jet aircraft.