For all details on this decision see pages 60–61 of the consultation document, Securing our future.
Significant proposals 2: Should we explore ways to have a role in the airport?
We know the airport is of high interest to our community and we need to know if you would like Council to explore how we could potentially have a role.
What are the options?
We recommend: Council should explore ways to have a role in the airport
Council should explore ways to have a role in the airport.
This recognises the significant support that has been expressed over the last three years by our community to retain air services and the range of benefits that could be achieved for our district.
Council should not explore ways to have a role in the airport
Kapiti Coast Airport is an important asset in our community, and a thriving airport would contribute strongly to the social and economic wellbeing of our district. However, the future of the airport is uncertain.
Ownership of Kapiti Coast Airport changed in late 2019, and after taking time to assess things, the new owners concluded that the airport operations are not sustainable for them. The vulnerability of the ongoing provision of air services has also been heightened in the immediate term by the lower levels of travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What we need to consider
The airport in Kāpiti is privately owned. Private ownership is unusual in New Zealand, particularly with small, regional airports such as our district's. All similar airports have to supplement air traffic services with other income streams, much as Kapiti Coast Airport has done in the past by developing Kapiti Landing as a retail hub to subsidise the airport operations.
Generally, regional airports are owned by councils, in some cases in partnership with government. Examples include the Far North, Whakatāne, Taupō, Whanganui, Marlborough and Timaru.
Because the airport is privately-owned, any future role for Council could only happen with the owners’ support. The current owners have engaged with the Council and have expressed a desire to work collaboratively with us, whatever the future of their asset may be.
What would exploring a role in the airport entail?
If we did explore having a role in the airport, we would investigate various options and how these could work for Kāpiti. We would need to understand the costs, risks and opportunities for various scenarios.
The sorts of options we could explore are to:
- not take a role (status quo)
- operate the airport, for example under a lease
- own the airport (potentially in partnership), either:
- operating it
- outsourcing operations.
There may be other options that emerge if we do go ahead and explore options. Exploring how we could have a role would need to include discussions with the owners about the Kapiti Landing retail area.
In exploring options, we would look to set principles that would guide future decisions. These could include:
- operation should be self-funding, requiring little or no ratepayer funding
- operating risks should be clearly identified and of an acceptable type and scale
- Iwi aspirations and historical rights are fulfilled to the extent possible
- options should focus on longer-term outcomes, particularly the growth prospects for both Kāpiti Coast and the region, and how the airport contributes
- the desirability of partnering such as with Iwi, Government, or the private sector.
Future consultation on detailed proposal
If we identified an option that we believed could work, any future steps would be reliant on the agreement of the owners of the airport. We would consult with the community providing full information about any proposal including costs.
Exploring ways to have a role in the airport:
- Council would investigate how various scenarios could work for Kāpiti
- need to understand the costs, risks and opportunities
- Council would set principles to guide any future decisions
- aim to start this process in 2021/22
- any future steps would need the agreement of the airport’s owners and full consultation with the community.
Cost - Costs involved in exploring options would come from the Council’s existing operational budget.
Timing - If we were to explore options, we would aim to start this in 2021/22, noting that it could be a lengthy process.