Contribution to increased economic activity

International passenger growth has been substantial in recent years, indicated below (Auckland is most representative), and while PBN may have played some part in underpinning the growth, in general it is only likely to have made a very modest contribution. However, the ability to contrast growth rates at Auckland and Queenstown suggests that some part of the explanation may be attributed to the greater impact of PBN on airport capacity and demand, as greater trip reliability resulted.

Over the period 2013 to 2016 international passenger movements at Queenstown have increased by 77%, as against 23% at Auckland. If the same rate of growth, of 23% had applied, some 150,000 fewer movements would have occurred. As a conservative scenario, this report estimates possible benefits from a 25,000 visitor gain as a result of PBN.

In an alternate approach, analysis also estimates the potential impacts of the increase in airport capacity, analysing carefully the source of the main changes in flights during the peak:

Growth is also predominantly in arrivals from Australia during peak arrivals in the early winter afternoons. This suggests that the bulk of the benefit of the airport capacity increase,
in combination with increased airport availability, has been to enable the growth of winter international tourist traffic and the tourism industry in the Queenstown area. The growth in
international traffic since 2012 is as follows:


International visitors spend some $3300 on average[1] in New Zealand, representing additional economic activity. Clearly many visitors to Queenstown spend time and money elsewhere, so a conservative benefit scenario is estimated for an average spend of $1500 each for the 25,000 additional visitors.

Other Known or Potential Benefits

PBN is just one part of a complex and interconnected system, where PBN can be considered a foundational precursor investment for other improvements, as other systems adjust to best utilise the new opportunities created. Some of these consequential possibilities are mentioned below. Note though that these have been collected as suggestions from a variety of sources and have not been subject to any review process.

Air traffic flow management. Part of the purpose of air traffic flow management (ATFM) is to level demand to more closely match capacity, to help reduce airborne queuing and delays. In order to do so, AFTM systems must be able to predict short term tactical demand and capacity, and then control the demand.

PBN helps improve the demand prediction process. The combination of improved predictability and the variety of instrument approach procedures now available is enabling air traffic controllers to more precisely control the flow of traffic. A component of ATFM, the arrival management automation system (AMAN), uses the predicted flight times to assign approach procedures to each flight to interleave the arriving traffic to best use the available capacity efficiently.

The results create the low level of airborne delay occurring. In Europe and the USA airborne delays in the last 100nm at the main 34 airport average 2.5 to 3 minutes. In contrast at Auckland, delays average a few seconds with delays above 2.5 minutes affecting only 25% of traffic at peak times (approximately 3% of traffic).

This result suggests that a “portfolio” approach to infrastructure development decisions may be helpful. This predictability outcome is the result of two systems acting together. PBN provides a foundation for improved ATFM performance. The outcome - improvements in airport capacity without reducing flight efficiency is a result that neither technology can achieve stand-alone.

Further diversion savings at Queenstown. The potential benefit for turboprop traffic once the Air New Zealand ATR72 fleet becomes quipped with RNP AR capability has not been assessed. The results will depend on the way in which the fleet mix changes, as some jet services may be replaced with turboprop services and some growth in new turboprop services may occur. The likely arrangements are not visible at this stage, precluding a reasonable estimation.

[1] Statistics NZ International Visitor Survey, year ended September 2016