Changing Wellington's connection with the world.

The Environment Court hearing for the runway extension consent application is currently on hold while the CAA reviews Wellington Airport’s safety area length requirements. Please see the timeline for the steps from here.

Wellington City Council has identified direct long haul flights as one of the big ideas to help Wellington thrive and a major opportunity to change how we connect with the rest of the world as a city, region and the country's capital.

The last major extension to Wellington’s runway occurred in 1972. It enabled direct jet services with Australia and transformed Wellington’s attractiveness for air travellers. Today, Wellington looks after more than 900,000 international passengers each year, there are up to 70 international return flights every week and the market will grow by at least 15% in 2016.

But despite this growth, central New Zealand’s air connectivity still lags behind. It is now time for the next phase of growth ...

Boeing’s B787 and Airbus’s A350 aircraft have the potential to directly link Wellington with Asia and North America. That would be a significant advantage for the region’s business, education and civic communities. But those time saving direct long haul services cannot use Wellington's existing runway – which is why Wellington City Council and Wellington Airport are seeking consent to extend the runway again.

Better connectivity, better business

Extending the runway will mean around 65% of the world’s population will be able to fly within one stop to Wellington. Currently, Wellington travellers spend nearly 40% longer travelling to Asia compared to their counter-parts from Auckland, and airfares to long-haul destinations are generally more expensive.

Greater international connectivity will allow businesses (especially in the knowledge-intensive industries) to enjoy better access to customers, suppliers, face-to-face meetings, international labour markets and foreign investors.

Growing tourism and education

It will also put central New Zealand on the map for tourists. Tourism is set to grow considerably especially from Asia where a growing middle class have increased disposable income and the freedom to travel. A new entry point to the centre of the country will provide more choice for tourists and more opportunities to access North or South Island itineraries.

In terms of Wellington’s valuable education sector, overseas student numbers are increasing but its lack of accessibility will continue to be a consideration in their decision to study here. Despite the fact that the Wellington region’s tertiary education institutions are world leaders, our international student earnings are underperforming.

wellington cable car


Extending the runway would produce a Benefit-Cost Ratio of 2.3 and net economic benefit for the country of $2.3 billion in today’s dollars. Around $7.6 of net economic benefit would be added for each dollar spent on lengthening the runway. The Wellington region would expect a third of the national net benefits equating to between $570 million and $1.9 billion.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Time savings
  • Cheaper travel
  • Greater frequency and options for flights
  • Incremental tourism growth
  • More efficient business travel
  • Growth in international students
  • More efficient freight operations
  • Increased and efficient airport and aviation industry activity
  • Business and migrant attraction