Kapiti Air Subsidy Condemned

Guy Burns deplores Council extravagance

Local politician Guy Burns says it’s been ‘a Sad Day for Local Government in Kapiti’ following news the KCDC will give $150,000 to help Air Chathams.

Mr Burns spoke out after news the Kapiti Coast District Council will give $150,000 to help Air Chathams to start flying from Paraparaumu to Auckland.

Mr Burns, Deputy Chair of the Raumati-Paraparaumu Community Board, says:

“Councillors have shown poor judgement handing over ratepayers’ money to a private, profit-making business.

“Air Chathams needs to stand on its own feet if it thinks it’s feasible to fly out of Paraparaumu.

“Rate rises are high, debt levels have skyrocketed.

“There’s no place for local government subsidising private enterprise. “

“In fact , he says, “KCDC have lost millions over the years in failed attempts to promote economic development.

“KCDC should stick to the basics of providing core services for ratepayers, not using public funds for subsidising Air Chathams.”

It is a simple choice, either the airport remains operational as an airport or it becomes a flash subdivision called ‘The Airport’ Not on my watch.

This was funded through Central Government regional amenity funding, not residential ratepayers. I have spent 5 years lobbying council to introduce a targeted business rate in order too pool funds for a guaranteed budget for use for Economic Development and it will be implemented in the next financial year. Yeah!

This costs each business, on average, the same cost as one 1 column x 10 cm newspaper advertisement or 3 x radio advertising spots. It will bring over $500K per annum dedicated budget for economic development that residents do not have to fund.
As the councilor who publicly exposed the complete loss of $1m ratepayers money on Cleantech 5 years ago and opposed the further $600K funding for the Cleantech Tower over last triennium, I do NOT give my vote lightly to any economic development project without doing due diligence thank you. The airport is a strategic asset, and face it, we have few. This vote was unanimous for good reason.

I agree with Mr Burns. While this is a nice service to have, it appears not to have enough scale, as ANZ have found out. Air Chathams appear not to be too bullish either or else they would back themselves and not require $150k to test the water!. If the Council were treating this as a worthwhile initiative, but protecting their own shareholders (ratepayers), they would be proposing to Chathams Air that “if they, are still operating all the schedules they commence with from Paraparaumu in 6 years time the Council will them make them a one off ex gratia payment of $150k cpi adjusted. Chathams are then, at least sharing the risk. Should they refuse an offer like that then the council will have learn’t something! The Council also need to explain to ratepayers just how they would measure the return they would get from this expenditure!
Tony Fraei

If Air Chathams think they can operate the route profitably, why did they they need to take this blatant bribe from councilors? They could easily get the $50,000 a year from passengers, and since nearly all of them will be businessmen and council staffers (and not tourists which councilors pretend), the small addition to the ticketed fares will be of no concern to them.


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