Air­port fee hike chal­lenged

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - TOM PULLAR-STRECKER

Auck­land Air­port plans to in­crease the fees it charges air­lines over the next five years.

The in­creases are to help pay for an in­fra­struc­ture spend-up that chief ex­ec­u­tive Adrian Lit­tle­wood said would make the air­port more spa­cious and in­tu­itive to travel through.

One up­side for pas­sen­gers is con­fir­ma­tion of a new $402 mil­lion do­mes­tic ter­mi­nal build­ing which will do away with the need for a bus trans­fer or 10 minute un­cov­ered walk when trans­fer­ring be­tween in­ter­na­tional flights and do­mes­tic jets.

‘‘There will be bet­ter and faster pas­sen­ger jour­neys through and around our air­port,’’ Lit­tle­wood said.

‘‘Pas­sen­gers are go­ing to see a sig­nif­i­cant change in the ter­mi­nal ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘‘There is go­ing to be a much more open and spa­cious feel.’’

The air­port sets out its charges ev­ery five years and the new fees will be sub­ject to reg­u­la­tory over­sight by the Com­merce Com­mis­sion.

But the Board of Air­line Rep­re­sen­ta­tives (Barnz), which rep­re­sents 28 ma­jor air­lines, said the air­port was plan­ning to charge $65m more over the five-year pe­riod than the air­lines thought was rea­son­able.

Lit­tle­wood said that re­sponse was to be ex­pected given the com­mer­cial in­ter­ests of its mem­bers, but dis­cus- sions with Barnz and in­di­vid­ual air­lines about the air­ports’ plans had been very con­struc­tive.

‘‘They have been across this for the last 12 months.’’

Av­er­age charges for in­ter­na­tional pas­sen­gers will fall slightly from $23.34 per take-off and land­ing be­fore ris­ing to $23.50 by 2022, un­der Auck­land Air­port’s plan.

The av­er­age charge for do­mes­tic pas­sen­gers will rise from $5.77 to $6.57 over the same pe­riod, af­ter a 4 cent dip next year.

The air­port said that meant charges for in­ter­na­tional flights would fall by 1.7 per cent ‘‘in real terms’’, per year, over the next five years, while those for do­mes­tic pas­sen­gers would in­crease by 0.8 per cent, an­nu­ally, on top of in­fla­tion.

All the fees are paid di­rectly by air­lines, but pas­sen­gers can ex­pect them to feed through into ticket prices if they are ap­proved by the Com­merce Com­mis­sion.

The fee changes would help pay for a $1.8b in­vest­ment pro­gramme, Lit­tle­wood said.

The most ex­pen­sive item will be the new do­mes­tic jet ter­mi­nal, which will be at­tached to the in­ter­na­tional ter­mi­nal.

‘‘There will be bet­ter and faster pas­sen­ger jour­neys through and around our air­port’’

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