WLG Says It Will "Strongly Defend" New Fee Structure
Air New Zealand has decided to pursue legal action against
Wellington International Airport, and a controversial proposed landing fee
John Blair, general counsel for the airline, said Air New
Zealand is asking the High Court to review the proposal as its
costs are set to increase more than 34 percent over the next five
years, according to the New Zealand Newsroom. The airline says the
costs aren't justified.
WLG acting CEO Mike Basher says a 2.85 percent increase each
year for the next five years comes to about 30 cents per passenger
and it's up to the airlines whether or not to pass that cost on to
The airport said its charges are reset every five years; the
last change was in 2002. Wellington plans to strongly defend the
review proceedings, Basher said.
"The increase in charges is directly related to the cost
associated with the airport's $85 million investment in enhanced
runway safety and the work that is underway to upgrade the
international terminal and aircraft facilities to relieve existing
congestion and to cope with forecasted passenger growth," he
Wellington International Airport Limited (WIAL) said it
consulted "comprehensively and constructively" with all concerned
airlines for a full year before setting the new charges.
"The charade of so-called consultation does nothing to constrain
airports, which start with extortionate increases and seek to
demonstrate an open mind by agreeing to lower, but still
unjustifiable, increases. It's the childhood trick of 'If you want
a dog, ask for a pony' played with consumers' wallets," Blair
"The current review of the Commerce Act is a critical
opportunity to establish a regime which introduces commercial
reality," he added. "No other country has such a derisory
price-setting regime. Airports' monopolistic behavior must not be
allowed to continue to choke the economic growth of New
"We believe that this was a modest increase in relation to a
considerable capital expenditure program," Basher said.
"Wellington Airport is acutely aware of its statutory
obligations in setting its landing fees and it is our view that we
have undertaken the process thoroughly," he continued. "The
regulation of airports in New Zealand has a track record of
producing good investment in facilities and prices which are still
low on a comparative international basis."
Air New Zealand also requested a Judicial review of Auckland
Airport's charges last month.