Strong growth in international tourists predicted

22 October 2015

Wellington’s Deputy Mayor, Justin Lester, says compelling figures for growth in international tourists presented to a City Council meeting today show there is a clear reason to continue planning for a runway extension at Wellington Airport.

Canadian-based airline consultancy InterVISTA presented to the Council’s Governance, Planning and Finance Committee, chaired by Cr Lester.

He says InterVISTA’s Route Development, Director, Alex Welch, showed demand for international connections into and out of Wellington has grown significantly – with 8 percent growth in the past year alone.

Forecasts by MBIE for international passenger numbers to New Zealand also show an expected increase to 3.8 million from the current level of 2.9 million over the next five years.

“A runway extension at Wellington would enable the Capital and central New Zealand to take advantage of that demand,” he says.

InterVISTA confirmed there were already sustainable and profitable international long haul routes to Asia and the market would get stronger in the future. A Singapore-Wellington link is predicted to attract the highest level of growth with other services connecting Wellington with Kuala Lumpur, Los Angeles, and Dubai via Australia

Cr Lester says the city has high levels of growth in passenger numbers and a growth in future demand would be further stimulated by a runway extension.

“In 1968 when a similar runway extension was proposed to support direct flights to Australia, critics tried to knock it back,” he says. “Wellington now has 65 international flights a week and we are heading toward a million international passengers.

“InterVISTA has shown that Wellington has experienced the fastest increase of any major New Zealand airport over the past 10 years and that the city’s long haul market will continue to climb.

"I believe the figures presented by InterVISTA give us comfort in terms of the work already under way on economic investigations relating to the 300-metre runway extension,” he says.