Whanganui Airport wins New Zealand Airport Association Award
Published on September 21, 2022
Whanganui Airport has been recognised by the New Zealand Airports Association as the ‘Small Airport of the Year’ for 2022. Whanganui Airport was competing with other small regional airports having less than 200,000 passengers per year.
The award recognises the significant work undertaken recently to introduce an Aeronautical Information Service, known as UNICOM, which assists pilots of aircraft flying in the Whanganui airspace, while also providing the airport operator with greatly improved oversight of airport activities.
The judges described the provision of the UNICOM service as a project that went beyond the traditional individual award categories through its excellent safety improvements and enhanced airport user collaboration.
They also noted that by reusing the existing heritage control tower building the airport has strongly underpinned the future potential of its aviation community.
Airport manager Phil McBride says the negative impacts of COVID-19 have been significant for the aviation industry, however, he says, “Air Chathams has now resumed their Whanganui / Auckland flight schedule and passenger demand is steadily increasing as New Zealanders return to travelling regionally and overseas.”
The reopening of New Zealand’s borders has also seen the number of international student pilots at the New Zealand International Commercial Pilot Academy (NZICPA), located at Whanganui Airport, return to pre-COVID 19 levels. This has resulted in a significant increase in light aircraft activity which places Whanganui Airport in the Top 10 airports based on the total number of aircraft take-offs and landings.
Whanganui Airport chief executive Sarah O’Hagan says, “The recognition is reward for the significant amount of work that has gone into getting the UNICOM service up and running. UNICOM will continue to reward us in the future from a safety perspective, now more than ever with the NZICPA gearing back up and Air Chathams returning to a full flight schedule.”
Photo: (L to R) Rachel Keay – UNICOM Manager, Whanganui Airport; Kevin Ward – Chief Executive NZ Airports Association; Phil McBride – Airport Manager, Whanganui Airport