Mike Cardiff answers questions about the financing and future of the Air Chathams services from Kapiti Coast Airport.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have read various articles and comments on the issue of Air Chathams and Kapiti Coast District Council (KCDC) funding.
As a result, I would like to clarify a number of matters relating to this issue which seem to be causing confusion.
KCDC support for the economic development potential within our district, is primarily a marketing strategy committed to promoting growth and employment.
Accordingly, our economic development budget is primarily focussed on destination marketing.
Finance for the project
The KCDC economic development budget for 2018/19 is $863,000. Within this amount, KCDC has agreed to spend $50,000 to promote Air Chathams through our Kapiti Coast destination marketing strategy.
This will be funded from our existing budget. It is not an additional rate payer expense or money that has been borrowed. It is a decision to make use of available funding not yet specifically allocated.
The $50,000 first year contribution will not be given directly to Air Chathams, but will be controlled by the KCDC economic development team to promote the Kapiti Coast as a destination through the airport. The commitment to a 3 year programme totalling $150,000 is not a payment in advance.
Because of KCDC’s decision to support a marketing strategy, Air New Zealand has also agreed to a $50,000 contribution to combine with our destination marketing resources to support Air Chathams.
What if the Air Chathams service fails?
In the meantime, KCDC is having on-going discussions with central government, specifically focused on reducing the costs of statutory Airways fees which are to be imposed on Air Chathams.
These charges are very high for a small regional airport such as ours.
I am aware of expressed concern from some, who wish to know what happens if the proposed service from Air Chathams is unable continue for some reason after 12 months.
The simple answer to that is that if Air Chathams decide not to provide a service, there will be no further promotion of the airport by KCDC on their behalf.
The remaining funds would remain within the economic development budget.
Keeping the airport operational
It is vital in my view that Kapiti Coast Airport remains operational. In particular a more frequent service to Auckland is most desirable
We have an increasing growth rate in district-wide new housing and business development. The new expressway and the yet to be completed Transmission Gully is now making Kapiti a more convenient and accessible destination.
This has been recognised by central government with the establishment of the new police communication centre in Paraparaumu along with 200 additional jobs.
An operational airport providing regular flights to Auckland that is well patronised also raises an opportunity for the re-introduction of flights to Christchurch.
The benefits from having Air Chathams providing services to and from Kapiti far outweigh having no service at all. I believe that Council support to help establish an Air Chathams service through a 3 year marketing strategy is a positive decision on behalf of our community.
Chair Audit and Risk Committee