While parties wait to see if Wellington International Airport Limited (WIAL) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are granted leave for appeal to the Supreme Court, following NZALPA’s win regarding the RESA issue for Wellington Airport’s proposed runway extension, lobbying of the Minister of Transport has continued.
It was recently revealed in the Dominion Post, through an Official Information Act request, that the Airports Association has written to Transport Minister Simon Bridges seeking an urgent law change to prevent the Court of Appeal decision from requiring the CAA to remove cost from its calculations of whether longer safety areas are practicable.
In February the Court of Appeal ordered the director of civil aviation, Graeme Harris, to change the way he determines whether runway safety areas (RESA) are acceptable.
Jet services to some regions could end if a court ruling forces the aviation watchdog to change its decision making, the Airports Association warned the Minister.
The letter was written by Airports Association chairman Steve Sanderson and chief executive Kevin Ward, and said that the decision could have a "pronounced" impact on New Zealand's air services.
"The outcome may see some airports lose the ability to serve jet traffic and turbo-prop services, or operating with significant payload restrictions," the letter said.
Steve Sanderson is also chief executive of Wellington Airport and held the same role previously at Queenstown Airport.
The Dominion Post reported that Queenstown Airport has refused to comment on the impact a Court of Appeal decision could have on its safety arrangements; however its chief executive sits on the executive committee of the Airports Association, which warns the impact on New Zealand aviation could be "pronounced".
Like Wellington, Queenstown operates with a 90-metre RESA, the minimum under international aviation rules. Extending the Queenstown RESA would appear to require building further into the delta of the Shotover River.
The Minister of Transport will not comment on the letter while the matter is still before the courts.
NZALPA President Tim Robinson said he did not believe the Court of Appeal decision would impact existing runway operations, unless an airport applied to extend the runway by more than 15m.
“I cannot see how the Court of Appeal decision and any decision for the Supreme Court in relation to RESA can then be retrospectively applied to airports that have current certifications for their RESA,” he added.
If NZALPA was wrong on this point, Robinson maintained the challenge it had brought would not be a mistake.
“We still firmly believe from a safety perspective that a 240 metre RESA is such a safety priority that all airports should be certified to 240 metres.”
Read the entire article by Dominion Post business reporter, Hamish Rutherford >
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