Regional Economic Development Minister Shanes Jones concerned by regional airports underfunding

Regional airports are crying out for help from the Government, with the industry saying a dozen are at risk because they just aren't making enough money.

They've got a sympathetic ear from Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones - who thinks they should have access to a pot of public money.

One of many victims to a thick blanket of fog in Auckland on Wednesday, which saw 20 flights cancelled and 20 others delayed, Jones is concerned regional airports have got their own fog to deal with - the fog of underfunding.

"Regional seeds will not grow unless Wellington gets off its nono and helps the growth through funding partnerships," he said.

The New Zealand Airports Association (NZAA) says 10 to 12 regional airports are struggling. 

"They've got the same costs as the busier airports, but they haven't got the level of traffic to get their revenue and landing fees from," said NZAA chief executive Kevin Ward.

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) has already helped fund work at three airports, including one in Gisborne. Two more airports have applied for funding. 

"We say that's great, but it should be built into a system that lasts into the future," said Ward.

The PGF was back in the limelight on Wednesday with Jones announcing $19.5m for a wood processing centre, $6m for medical research and $2m for a social enterprise.

"Lot's of young able-bodied men but too much idle time, bad habits and poor lifestyle decisions and we want to turn that around," said Jones.

That takes total allocated provincial growth funding to $2.2 billion.

The airport industry says $30 million would keep small airports open for five years.

There's still $800 million dollars left in the PGF - money that mayors could apply for if their airports need upgrades

Meanwhile, officials are looking at the case for extra funding for regional airports.


Contact Newshub with your story tips: