2 Mar 2012

Airlines complaining about airport charges

12:47 pm on 2 March 2012

A group representing 20 airlines says Wellington International Airport Ltd is imposing severe and unilateral rises in the price it charges.

Board of Airlines Representatives says the airport is a natural monopoly and wants the Commerce Commission to crack down on it and other airports which have a captive market in their community.

It says WIAL is raising the cost for aircraft by 54% over five years, from about $56 million this year, to about $86 million in 2017. There was an increase of 78% in 2003.

The group says this is unacceptable and passengers will end up paying for the rise.

But WIAL says there was consultation with airlines about the prices and they reflect the need for extra facilities to cope with more passengers.

The airport is under notice to justify its financial arrangements under a disclosure regime imposed by the Commerce Commission.

It says it has no fears about this, but the Board of Airline Representatives wants more stringent controls to emerge from this process.

WIAL says the rise reflects the cost to provide its services to the public, and also covers investment to cope with more passengers in the coming years.

It also says an international departure fee that passengers pay will be gone by 1 April.