The long-awaited upgrade of New Zealand’s most remote regional airport moved one step closer last week when the Board of Chatham Island Airport Ltd signed an agreement with the Provincial Development Unit for NZ$98,000 of funding from the Provincial Growth Fund.
“This is the next step in a vital project for the Chatham Islands, the lengthening and strengthening of the community owned Inia William Tuuta Memorial Airport” said airport company board chair Allan MacGibbon.
This funding will enable the completion of the technical specifications and preliminary costing of the airport development through the completion of the final geotechnical laboratory tests. It will also support completion of a comprehensive business case for the funding of this vital regional infrastructure project.
Chatham Islands Airport Limited is part of the Chatham Islands Enterprise Trust. It is a charity and public benefit entity owned by all Chatham Islanders.
With the financial support of the Chatham Islands Enterprise Trust, the Airport Company has invested significantly in operational improvements including $750,000 of innovative solar runway lighting upgrades in September. It has also contributed close to $100,000 this year in survey, geotechnical and technical design work to support the technical specification design for runway improvements. However, the costs of the upgrades are well beyond the means of the remote island community of around 600 residents.
“There is little doubt that without the Provincial Growth Fund there is little likelihood of the Island Community having the means to advance this project” added Mr MacGibbon. The project to lengthen the current 4,495ft (1,370m) runway out to 6,070ft (1,850m) metres and strengthen it to cater for larger and faster Code 4C jet aircraft (Boeing 737/Airbus A320 class) stems from the airport company’s goal to ensure the airport can deliver the island community’s social and economic needs for the next 30 to 50 years.