Facts & Figures

  • $300mEstimated total investment required

  • 33%Shorter travel time to Asia and North America

  • $389-$684mPotential economic benefits to Wellington region

Wellington’s economic prosperity depends on the strength of its connections with the rest of the world.

Air NZ aeroplane flying above Wellington hills

Tourism is a fast-growing sector of the region’s economy, supporting 16,000 jobs. Yet the industry’s potential for future growth is limited, because Wellington International Airport isn’t built for long-haul international flights.

The lack of long-distance direct air connections also reduces the region’s ability to attract international students and make business connections.

Wellington International Airport is proposing to increase the length of its runway by about 300 metres, allowing it to support direct flights to and from Asia and North America.

The runway extension is estimated to require an investment of up to $300 million. The Council has contributed to the funding for an application for resource consent along with the Airport. This is expected this year.

Independent economic analysis to date has found that, over 40 years, the extension has potential economic benefits to the Wellington region of between $389 million and $684 million in today’s dollars, and potential economic benefits to New Zealand of between $714 million and $1.75 billion in today’s dollars.1

These benefits would principally arise from growth in international tourism – estimated to be worth up to $1.3 billion nationally. Experience in other cities has shown that adding long-haul air services stimulates increases in inbound tourism by 50-100 percent or more within a very short timeframe.

Independent analysis commissioned by the airport has also concluded that the runway extension would support an increase in international student numbers. It is likely to reduce business travel times by about 33 percent on routes to and from Asia and North America, and reduce freight transport times. Find out more on www.connectwellington.co.nz.

A number of intangible benefits would arise from improved business-to-business connectivity – including improved knowledge-sharing opportunities, and better access to customers, suppliers, investors, and skilled labour.


  • Growth in international visitor numbers and spend.
  • Growth in international student numbers.
  • More jobs and more freight movements .
  • Stronger international business connections.


  • The Council will provide grant funding sufficient to service a $90 million investment as contribution towards a longer runway.
  • The level of grant funding required to service this investment over 40 years would result in an annual cost of around $6.5million commencing in 2019/20.
  • The total costs and funding options will be considered as part of the business case.
  • A decision to proceed will be made at that point and in light of resource consent process.
  • It is anticipated that the balance of funding will be drawn from those that benefit – potentially the Airport, residents, businesses in the city and across the wider region, and the government in light of potential economic benefits to New Zealand.


1. Ernst & Young, September 2014, Wellington International Airport Limited: Economic impact of the proposed runway extension (measured in today’s dollars).

What you think

56% Feedback received that supports our overall plan

391 Number of times people have told us what they think about this idea

55% Feedback received that supports this idea

#1 Out of 28 ideas based on amount of feedback received.

Who would benefit most?

24% Local businesses
23% Visitors to Wellington
20% Local residents
17% Future generations
15% NZ as a whole
  • Local residents
  • Local businesses
  • Visitors to Wellington
  • NZ as a whole
  • Future generations
  • Other

How should we prioritise it?

44% Quite low
37% High
11% Quite high
5% Neutral
4% Low
  • Quite low
  • Low
  • Neutral
  • Quite high
  • High
  • Brian, Tawa

    I am opposed. Wellington is small on the international scale, and does not have the population for many airlines to see financial benefit in stopping here. Also, flying is the worst form of travel from a carbon emissions perspective. I would rather see the money spent on improving our rail services between Wellington and Auckland, and upgrading them to a higher speed and frequency, so they can better compete with air travel.

  • James, South Gate

    It's good, but it's in the wrong place... Almost all major cities in the world have their larger airports not in the city. Why Wellington is hell-bent on extending a small airport on reclaimed land, over building an expressway airport in the Hutt Valley (and stimulating an area of Greater Wellington that's dying) and having good connections (the tracks are almost to it already) is beyond me. $300 M could build close to a brand new, state of the art airport, connected by trains, so green, in an area that also suffers significantly less wind issues also than the current airport.

  • Greg, Khandallah

    Its loony, waste of Financial resources.

  • Nicole, Newlands

    I am supportive of the capital of New Zealand being able to be support international flights. However, has there been research undertaken to check the viability of shifting the airport to Kapiti Coast? Is the current airport location the best location? i.e. in terms of weather, current congestion, further future expansion etc.

  • William, Karori

    As an exporter resident in Wellington for 50 years this is absolutely critical to the region. I am sick of spending hours upon hours in Auckland, Sydney etc waiting for connections. Apart from helping people like me it will stop companies moving out (Icebreaker for one) and encourage more to move here particularly those that need to travel for business. A big plus for me!!

  • VK, Te Aro

    I don't see support from the airlines, without which it's an expensive mistake

  • Jane, Roseneath

    I don't think it is a good idea - I think it is a great idea and essential to the growth of Wellington

  • Anonymous, Other

    I think it is a great idea and should be fully supported.im sick of the country always flying to Auckland or Christchurch to travel over seas.
    it about time wellington caught up with the other airports