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The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association Newsletter. As of April 2020 Uplink ALPA is a 6-monthly publication.

Wellington Airport signs agreement with Chinese to help build runway extension

Wellington Airport has signed an agreement with the world’s biggest construction company, China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), to help build its proposed more than $300m runway extension.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Capital’s airport and CSCEC coincided with a Wellington mayoral visit to Beijing. 

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of New Zealand is yet to deliver its decision on the appeal brought earlier this year by Wellington International Airport Limited (WIAL) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on a Court of Appeal ruling regarding the length of a Runway End Safety Area (RESA) for the proposed extension.   

The Court of Appeal has determined that international civil aviation law, as applied in New Zealand law, requires 240-metre long safety areas, or such shorter distance as is practicable, and not less than 90 metres. Alternatively, a shorter distance than 240 metres can be used if specialised arrestor systems are also installed.

In its decision, the Court of Appeal had directed the Director of CAA to reconsider his provisional view that only a 90-metre safety area would be required for an extended Wellington Airport runway. The Director considered that a greater distance was not practicable because of its likely cost.

As well as a decision on the appeal from the Supreme Court, appropriate resource consents for a runway extension are yet to be obtained. This process can only begin once the Supreme Court decision is known.

In a statement, WIAL announced it had signed two MOUs with major Chinese companies as it seeks to “explore potential investments and boost tourism in the Capital.”

As well as an MOU with CSCEC, another was signed with China Express Airlines “outlining a commitment to feasibility studies into the benefits of various investments such as airport and tourism infrastructure.” 

Matt Clarke, WIAL Chief Commercial Officer, said that the signing of the memorandums was “a significant symbolic step, signifying Wellington Airport’s commitment to investing in developing the ties between the two cities.”

The statement also said that it was interested in working with CSCEC on a range of projects such as visitor attraction infrastructure as well as the proposed runway extension.

“The MOU states we will work with CSCEC as a partner on the planned extension, but it’s important to remember that any decision on the selection of any final contractor will obviously be subject to the project being consented in the Environment Court and then a robust tender process.”

The MOU announcement has understandably raised interest from local media. Stuff Business reported that Wellington Airport would be working with regional airline China Express, a feeder to hub airline carriers, on its “global ambitions to expand and would be working with the airport on new air routes to Wellington.” 

It described CSCEC as the largest construction firm and home builder in the world, working in 46 countries. It started working in New Zealand in 2015 and currently has two Kiwi developments – a ‘super high-rise’ apartment block in Auckland and hotel.

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