Whanganui Airport's South Beach Cafe has not reopened since the Covid-19 lockdown and now Whanganui District Council is putting it up for lease.
Airport chief executive Leighton Toy said the council reviewed the airport's operation and decided the cafe had benefits to the community but running it was not a core council function.
It used to be open from 6am to 5pm on weekdays, 7am to 1.30pm on Saturdays, and 11.30am to 5pm on Sundays.
Now the airport building is open an hour before each scheduled departure flight and 30 minutes before each scheduled arrival.
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A free self-service drinks machine will be available at those times.
Whanganui district councillor Philippa Baker-Hogan, who has been critical of past decisions to have the airport cafe closed over holidays, was disappointed it had not been running post-lockdown to help Air Chathams and boost regional tourism.
"It's the main gateway to Whanganui," she said.
"I believe we should have got it up and running, and then go through this process."
Whanganui deputy mayor Jenny Duncan agreed the café was an important part of the welcome to, and the departure from, Whanganui but said it must be run at no cost to ratepayers.
"Someone who is skilled in the café and catering industry will be able to fully utilise the café and kitchen to run a profitable business and maybe even attach it to a current enterprise," she said.
Toy said the commercial kitchen facilities at the cafe could provide an opportunity for further business.