As foreshadowed since the arrival of Glen Sowry as the new Chief Executive Officer at Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC), including at KPCA’s AGM in March, QAC has confirmed in its Statement of Intent for the year to June 2023, that it will manage aeronautical growth at Queenstown Airport within the existing air noise boundaries (ANBs).
Given that: (1) in July 2018 QAC began consulting on expanding those ANBs; and (2) by 2019 levels of aircraft movements where such that the boundaries were apparently about to be reached (18 years ahead of schedule), how is this ‘living within the ANBs’ to be achieved? Answer, technology and effective management: “Queenstown Airport can cater for organic and manageable growth in passenger and aircraft movements to and from the region in the future through a combination of advances in aircraft technology, including larger and quieter narrow-body aircraft, and effective management of its existing noise boundary capacity”.
Obviously, advances in aircraft technology is a matter for the airlines and whether they respond to QAC’s encouragement and incentives to deploy new generation, quieter, lower emissions aircraft into Queenstown.
What “effective management of its existing noise boundary capacity” amounts to is not yet clear.
QAC’s Noise Management Plan includes:
- facilitating the Queenstown Airport Liaison Committee (on which Kelvin Peninsula is represented); and
- noise modelling to determine compliance with operative noise boundaries.
As we told Councillors at QLDC’s Council 30 June meeting when they agreed the SOI, KPCA will watch with interest how these ingredients interact with “effective management of its existing noise boundary capacity”.
Also relevant is QAC’s commitment in the SOI to consult with the community on the Airport Master Plan next year. The strategic planning resulting from the Master Plan process will inevitably impact on QAC’s ability to live within the existing ANBs. QAC expects, for example, passenger movements to exceed 2018/19 levels in 2024/25: 2,472,000 passenger movements; 18,832 aircraft movements.
But, as is the way these days with community ‘consultation’, the corporate view will be formed ahead of engaging with the community, making it hard for us to influence the outcome. The involvement of our representatives on Council, therefore, becomes all the more significant.
The timetable for producing the Master Plan includes early input of Councillors, at a Workshop which will include a Noise update session later this year. It will be important that the new Council, elected this October, maintains and delivers on the commitment of active engagement with QAC’s strategic planning. This was noted in the Mayor’s written comments to the QAC Board on 10 May 2022: “the Council [intends] to be fully informed through the development of the 10 Year Strategic Plan and draft Master Plan, before community consultation, and to formally agree both before implementation“.
The SOI ignores this direction in relation to the 10 Year Strategic Plan; and waters it down to “report[ing] the final master plan to shareholders and seek[ing] shareholder endorsement of the final master plan before any final approval by the board“.
We expect ‘aeronautical growth’ will remain an issue of concern to the Peninsula community: growth in passenger and aircraft movements is, of course, a surrogate for growth in visitor numbers and all that that entails for residents, over and above living within the existing ANBs.
Doubtless the issue of growth will feature in the hustings for the upcoming election in October. In line with KPCA’s practice over recent elections, we will invite candidates to speak directly to you at our half year general meeting on 21 September 2022. Mark your diaries – details to follow.