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Thames Airfield

The following recommendations go before the TCB on 5 September in regard to the future of the airfield:

1. Notes that the Thames Airfield User Group do not recommend any changes to the Thames Airfield Masterplan at this time.
2. Notes that the Thames Airfield User Group recommends that the Community Board make budget provision for drainage works to ensure the airfield is serviceable at all times as its first priority, and; · basic infrastructure (water supply, sewerage, electricity and roading) to be provided as a second priority.
3. Notes that the Thames Airfield User Group recommends Council identify and start working with interested sectors of the community about forming a trust/incorporated society to manage the operations of the Thames airfield.
4. Notes that Mr. Furkert and Mr. Oliver have previously approached the Board expressing an interest in presenting a proposal to take over operational management of the Airfield.
5. Agrees that it will not take any further action in relation to working with users of the Airfield on alternative management or options for further development of the Airfield until Mr Furkert and Mr Oliver have presented their proposal.
7. Determines if it wishes to enter into a more formal arrangement with Mr Furkert and Mr Oliver in relation to the investigation options for the future operational management of the Thames Airfield.

There appears to be a degree of tension between the Airfield Users Group, and Messrs Oliver and Furkert who have presented some vague proposals to develop the airport under an independent trust with a view to improving its commercial operation. It seems that the Group wish to see far more detail in the proposal before putting their support behind it. In the meantime, there are substantial infrastructure issues that they believe the Council should deal with as a matter of urgency.

There are some fundamental issues of fairness surrounding Council incurring additional infrastructure costs at the airport. A small and privileged group who own aircraft and who operate from the airport are the recipients a substantial subsidy of around $50,000 a year from Thames rate-payers. Exactly what benefit these same rate-payers receive from this largesse have never been spelt out.

The Users Group who represent the 20 or so companies and people who operate aircraft, both recreational and commercial pay fees that are totally inadequate to meet the costs of operation, and yet now demand further capital expenditure on wastewater, water, drainage and runway alignment together with additional expenditure on running costs.

These demands are made quite independent of the proposals by Messrs Oliver and Furkert - the Users Group are clearly concerned that their costs could increase exponentially if the proposed trust gets the right to operate the airport.

I for one would be pleased to see just what is to be proposed, because anything that gets the capital and operating costs of the airport off the back of the ratepayer must have merit. Clearly the proposers of the Trust will be wishing to make their own demands on ratepayer, so we should not get too excited yet, but undoubtedly they will want to charge realistic fees in contrast to the present situation. 

Board Member Lester Yates is the Board representative on the Users Group. I trust that he brings a realistic commercial approach to whatever is being proposed. In the meantime, and in view of the demonstrated commercial naivety of some of our Board members, we should all watch very carefully what evolves from this Paper.




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Reader Comments (2)

We have already entered an era of scarce and ever more expensive fuel. These trends will will intensify sooner than we imagine. Air travel will be the first mode to decline. Throwing scarce ratepayer funds at white elephant airfield expansion is utter madness

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDenis Tegg

T.C.Bd. have always known that to develop the Thames airfield would take an enormous investment in the infrastructure which the Thames ratepayers could not afford. Because the airfields running costs are subsidised by Thames ward ratepayers already, the users are unfairly advantaged and the unseen elephant in the room is - when will the TUGPRA fund be repaid the $500,000 that was borrowed to extend the runway?. It was expected that landing fees from the bigger aircraft would cover this BUT no one collected them for a while and now the aerodrome still runs at a loss. Guess who is paying to prop this place up. Why does no-one ever mention loan repayment on the T.C.Bd.?? I hope the proponents of "more business" don't provide private enterprise with our rates to set their business up. Bad risk!

October 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeter H Wood

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