Aeronautical charges confirmed for Whanganui Airport users

Published on 13 May 2024

Whanganui Airport Scenic.jpg

The Minister of Transport has approved aeronautical fee increases for Whanganui Airport users, which will come into effect from 1 June 2024.

Whanganui Airport chief executive Sarah O’Hagan says this will be the first increase in fees since 2009.

“The Airport Authorities Act requires us to review landing fees every five years, but an assessment of the charges in 2013 resulted in no changes to the 2009 rates. Then a review planned for 2019 was delayed to help mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on the aviation industry.”

She says, “Our current review will bring in increases, but these will be applied progressively between now and 2027 and at the end of that period fees will still be amongst the lowest in the country.”

Whanganui Airport is a Joint Venture airport owned in equal shares by the Crown (Ministry of Transport) and Whanganui District Council. Sarah O’Hagan says, “This is why we are required to have any fee increases approved by the Minister of Transport.”

Aeronautical charges are comprised of two components: airfield charges and terminal charges. The airfield charge is based on the maximum take-off weight and applied to all aircraft. The terminal charge is based on an assumed 70 percent passenger loading of the aircraft and is applied to passenger transport aircraft. 

Sarah O’Hagan says aeronautical charges contribute to the operating costs of the airport. “Examples of these costs are audit fees, cleaning and sanitation, compliance costs, fuel and oil, health and safety, insurance, licenses, legal fees, repairs and maintenance, vehicle expenses, gas and electricity, marketing and promotion, personnel costs, security and so on.”

She says, “Aeronautical charges currently meet around 10 percent of Whanganui Airport’s operating expenditure, with the shortfall funded equally by Whanganui District Council and the Ministry of Transport. By 2027 aeronautical charges will fund approximately 44 percent of the airport’s operating costs which will reduce the level of funding required from ratepayers and taxpayers.”

As of 1 June 2024, aeronautical charges for the SAAB 340B aircraft, operated by Air Chathams, will increase from $111.90 to $174.92 per arrival. These charges, when applied across an inbound and outbound flight, will result in a forecast average increase (per passenger) of $1.31 with yearly increases then being progressively applied from 1 July 2024, with the forecast increase totalling $5.35 per passenger after 1 July 2027.

Whanganui Airport’s June 2024 aeronautical charges will make up 1.0 - 3.6 percent of a typical Air Chathams Whanganui-Auckland airfare depending on the type of ticket purchased.

Sarah O’Hagan says, “We compare very well with other regional airports that have the same certification to conduct passenger transport operations.

“Helicopter operators use and benefit from many of the same airport resources as fixed-wing aircraft, such as dedicated circuit airspace, aerodrome lighting, fuel bowsers, fences, security, communications and airport certification. In line with many other New Zealand airports, Whanganui Airport will apply aeronautical charges to all helicopter operations from 1 June 2024.”

She says discounted aeronautical charges for pilot flight training will be applied to the training organisations resident at Whanganui Airport – the New Zealand Helicopter Training Academy, Wanganui Aero Club and the New Zealand International Commercial Pilot Academy.

A number of major projects have recently been completed at Whanganui Airport. These include resurfacing of the sealed runway, taxiway and apron, an extension of the apron to accommodate Air Whanganui aeromedical aircraft, replacement of the terminal building roof and repainting the exterior of the terminal building.

Sarah O’Hagan says funding for these – and future capital projects – is provided by Whanganui District Council and the Ministry of Transport under the Joint Venture agreement. “Aeronautical charges do not contribute to capital expenditure.”


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