I'd love to see a Manawatu Regional Airport near Levin, pull in PMR, PPQ and all the surrounds like Foxton and Levin itself. With State Highway improvements you could get the trip down to 30mins from both major centers and both are on the same main trunk rail line which goes directly through all major centers.
Why isn't two airports an hour each away (1 to the North, 1 to the South) enough (I know WLG is probably more than an hour during peak)? And as you say getting closer with road improvements.
What other part of New Zealand is as well served by other airports as the Kapiti Coast? I guess maybe HLZ-TRG-ROT triangle...
I'm not entirely suggesting it's not enough, I'm really suggesting an alternative where you can utilize size and scale to your benefit.
The population of the lower North Island spreads up the Island and land availability for long-term development in the inner WLG region is limited which leads you to believe more growth further north over the next 50+years.
From PPQ to PMR it's between an hour and to an hour and a half drive so probably too far and with no jet services it's questionable if there's enough 'cheap' seats in the market to have any serious push for passengers to commit to that drive over WLG.
WLG is an hour give or take and offers a wide range of destinations and ample entry level price points. That's pulling power away from PPQ itself.
The fact NZ tried PPQ, 3C are now doing it proves there's some potential there.
The issue is how to make it work because WLG is down the road for PPQ.
- PMR and PPQ both are inner city airports which face the "nose" issue.
- Neither are big enough to justify jets or routes beyond AKL,CHC and NSN.
What could be done if they centralized air hub and cast a net over 60mins drive from X spot.
You can try that here; https://www.oalley.net/app/
While an hour may seem like a long drive when your currently have and airfield in the center of town. But does anyone see that working long term?
Also ROT,TRG,WHK (maybe HLZ) looked at a centralized airport concept. And... much like PPQ is to WLG, you could argue AKL being up the road from HLZ is one of the primary reasons why HLZ hasn't had long term success with international flights.