Air Transport World

A license to print money.(negotiations between Air New Zealand Ltd. and Auckland International Airport Ltd.)

THE HEAT IS BEING TURNED WAY up at Auckland International and it has nothing to do with global warming and everything to do with the less-than-harmonious relationship between the airport's highly profitable owner, Auckland International Airport Ltd., and its biggest customer, Air New Zealand. The two find themselves more and more at odds as the airport and its tenant airlines enter the final round of negotiations to hammer out increases in aeronautical charges for the five years commencing Sept. 1. A hike of up to 30% has been rumored although this is denied by AIAL, which declines to provide details of its proposal. Last year it won a New Zealand High Court ruling preventing ANZ from making public the level of the proposed increase.

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To opponents of airport privatization, the situation at AKL presents a prima facie case against the practice. AIAL was established as a corporate entity on April 1, 1988, to operate the airport and the initial shareholders were the New Zealand government with a 50% stake and the region's city councils with the balance. In 1998, the government sold its shareholding through a public float and AIAL became a listed company on the N.Z. and Australian Stock Exchanges. Auckland Airport is its only asset.

At the heart of the current disagreement is a reappraisal of the airport land and commercial property conducted on behalf of AIAL in 2006 that saw the value of the real estate soar from NZ$1. …

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