‘Ludicrous’: Doubling of airport’s hangar costs will deter growth, says pilot

Pilot Jeremy Cubitt has slammed Orange City Council's increase for airport hangar leases.
Pilot Jeremy Cubitt has slammed Orange City Council's increase for airport hangar leases.

A pilot has slammed Orange City Council’s decision to double airport hangar lease rates calling it a “major deterrent” in attracting aviation businesses.

Retiree Jeremy Cubitt has been a long-term airport tenant and after he was advised the cost for leasing his hangar were to double, he moved his plane to Wellington’s Bodangora airport.

Mr Cubitt said the cost for his 12 by nine metre hangar were to jump from $2400 to $4800 when the lease expires.

“It’s ludicrous. Council is not willing to work with airport operators,” he said.

Council spokesman Nick Redmond said there had been investment in airport facilities and there were 18 privately-leased hangars.

“Most of these leases have been long-term arrangements,” Mr Redmond said.

“As those leases are renewed, the council brings the new rent-levels into line with contemporary market rents. These are set after independent market appraisals.

“There are number of smaller airports around the region, and operators have to make a business decision which reflects the value to their customers of them working out of Orange or somewhere else.”

Mr Cubitt questioned the value of the leasing rates, as he provided his own electricity with a petrol generator and mowed grass around it.

“My house rates are $2400 and I get electricity, water and sewage,” Mr Cubitt said.

“At the airport I just get a block of land, no electricity, no water or waste collection, there’s no major attraction outside of being close.”

Mr Cubitt said his efforts to understand the cost increase and receive a fair valuation had been rebuffed.

His plane is stored at Wellington’s airport while his hangar is sub-leased.

Mr Cubitt said the atmosphere at Wellington’s airport was “collaborative” with pilots working together through the aero club to maintain the terminal.

Mr Redmond said development of the airport’s facilities included extending the runway, a terminal upgrade, assisting the aero club with upgrades and building a hangar for the helicopter rescue service.

”This all adds up to a significantly upgraded area for businesses to be based and for local flying enthusiasts to find hangar accommodation,” he said.

“The range of businesses based at the Orange airport includes aircraft and helicopter pilot training, fuel supplies and aircraft maintenance.”

Mr Redmond said it was up to people to decide whether they renewed their hangar leases.

“Under these changes, a typical rent for an 800 square metre hangar site at the airport would increase from around $2500 per year to $5500 per year or around $105 a week,” he said.