September 2, 2008

Bigger Role Possible for Rangiora Airfield


Rangiora's airfield could become a general aviation hub if the Waimakariri District Council decides today to investigate upgrading it.

A report by an international aviation consultant, Airbiz, said the council-owned complex could become a prominent airport for general aviation and associated businesses because of its proximity to Christchurch and its ability to expand.

It said Rangiora was well- placed to pick up a share of general aviation operators relocating from Wigram, which was closing down, and its growth would by aided by the increased amount of traffic using Christchurch Airport, air traffic constraints at the West Melton airfield and a distance disadvantage for Ashburton's airport.

The report said it was critical more land was secured as without it the airfield would remain a recreational airfield, and investment in runway lighting was needed.

It supported the council buying 44ha of adjoining farmland and developing the airfield into a 24-hour, seven- day operation.

There was strong demand for hangar space at the airfield, which had three good runways, no air traffic control limitations, no bird problems and a low closure rate due to weather.

It was in an area of strong regional growth and could develop through forming partnerships with companies such as MainPower, the report said.

The airfield's weaknesses were no lighting, lack of sewerage, haphazard development, lack of funding commitment by the district council, a potential lack of land for development, low ground lease rates and grass runways.

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