20 May 2024

Fire and Emergency aviation industry levy changes opposed by industry group

11:08 pm on 20 May 2024
The Northland Rescue Helicopter currently gets about 15 percent of its funding from the community via donations and a ratepayer levy.

Rescue helicopters could see a $9000 increase in levies a year. File photo. Photo: Peter de Graaf

New aviation levies proposed by Fire and Emergency are excessive and unfair, a group representing the industry says.

Fire and Emergency (FENZ) plans to extend its fire insurance levy - currently imposed on homes and other property including cars - to domestic aircraft like planes and helicopters, staring to July 2026.

Although the proposal is for just 11.51 cents per $100 of insurance, Aviation Industry Association chief executive Simon Wallace says it adds up to a significant cost.

"For a rescue helicopter, that's $9000 in levies per year. For an aircraft valued at $10 million it's $11,500, and it just goes up from here. These are very excessive levies."

He said the aviation industry had previously been exempt from the levies because of its "minimal" use of emergency services.

"Domestic aviation is a negligible user of FENZ services," he said.

"There were less than 40 callouts to aviation last year, out of 88,000 [total callouts], so 0.045 percent of all callouts come from domestic aviation."

The fire insurance levy for homes was capped to $100,000 of insurance. That meant homeowners with fire insurance would never pay more than $106 per year, or $119.50 when the levy rate is adjusted in July this year.

But Wallace said the proposed levies on aircraft would be uncapped, and aviation businesses would be charged tens of thousands.

"If there is to be a levy at all, it should be capped," he said. "FENZ needs to come back and talk to the sector about it, which hasn't happened."

He said the levies would not just apply to commercial airlines, but the entire aviation industry.

"Whether it's an agriculture operator, a rescue helicopter, a flight training school. They will all come under what we think is an excessive, and uncapped, levy," he said.

Fire and Emergency NZ and the government had been unresponsive, Simon said.

"[We] lodged a submission last Friday, we have written to Minister of Internal Affairs Brooke van Velden, we've asked for a meeting with her... we have heard nothing to date."

Fire and Emergency has been approached for comment.

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