Is Gerry Brownlee protecting Air New Zealand?

So here’s the thing. ?There are about 500,000 people that live out west and north of Auckland that need to drive an hour or more to get to Auckland Airport to catch a plane. ? There is an airbase at Whenuapai – right smack bang in the middle of where these people live.

The chief executive of a new regional airline being set up says he has not given up hope of the Whenuapai military airbase being used for commercial flights.

Kiwi Regional Airlines wants to fly from Whenuapai to Wellington, but Defence Minister, Gerry Brownlee said he had no plans to change the airbase’s status.

The carrier’s CEO, Ewan Wilson, said he would keep trying to change the Government’s mind.

“It still remains a goal for us. Governments come and go, we’re not quite sure of what makes Whenuapai so unique. The military base at Woodbourne, Blenheim operates for both civilian and military use.”

Mr Wilson said the start-up airline was still planning to apply for consent to fly routes abandoned by Air New Zealand, including between Auckland, Hamilton, Nelson and Queenstown, as-well-as between Tauranga, Palmerston North and Blenheim.

Keeping in mind Woodbourne is a military base, there is no precedent for keeping commercial flights away on the basis that there is a military side to the airfield.

North and West Aucklanders having to battle their way to and from Auckland Aiport in South Auckland isn’t helping the traffic situation much either.

On the face of it, the only reasons to deny commercial access to Whenuapai are 1) secrets and 2) keeping a competitor to Air New Zealand from getting a toe hold in the market.

We’ve seen Air New Zealand isn’t interested in flying their planes to smaller centers, but they are absolutely brutal when it comes to defending their network. ?Every time a competitor pops up, they have been squeezed out the back.

I would like to know the reason behind the refusal to open up Whenuapai for commercial access. ?There are half a million people that could do with an airport close by.

 

– RNZ

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