DALLAS – Air New Zealand (NZ) and Qantas (QF) have joined forces to oppose the scale and costs of the planned redevelopment of Auckland Airport (AKL). They are demanding an urgent rethink of the current proposals.
The airport, managed by Auckland International Airport Limited (AIAL), will go through a NZ$3.9bn (US$2.3bn) upgrade in the next five to six years, and the costs will be recouped through airport users. The airlines say this could mean that air travel could become unaffordable for some travelers.
AIAL has published their increased aeronautical charges that would see indicative per-passenger charges increase two-fold on international routes by the year’s end. It would also more than double on domestic routes.
Pause on Redevelopments
They have suggested that there should be a pause on any significant redevelopments until a more affordable plan is put in place. This could be done by reducing costs or creating a more workable funding and pricing model. The official joint statement from the airlines continued, ‘There is a solution that provides a basis for sustainable growth and improving amenities over the medium term for AIAL, the airlines, and a better result for New Zealanders and the travelling public; Investing some of the profits AIAL earns from other services like parking and retail to pay for some of the project; and prioritising reducing the impact of the cost of infrastructure so passengers and those who use airline services can afford to keep flying.’
The two carriers also said that AIAL has only released the first phase of the redevelopment plan. Therefore costs could continue to spiral, with one analyst estimating that the overall cost for phases one and two of the master plan could swell to NZ$6bn (US$3.6bn), with more charges to come in the future.
QF, NZ CEO Statements
Air New Zealand Chief Executive Greg Foran said, “We all agree that some investment in Auckland Airport is necessary. However, this is an enormous spend over a short period that adds almost no additional capacity.
“All it is expected to result in is more costs for everyone who uses, relies on, or passes through the airport, including the aviation industry, the tourism industry, the whole economy, and Air New Zealand’s passengers.”
Qantas’ outgoing CEO Alan Joyce added, “Airlines accept that investment is needed, but what AIAL is proposing goes far beyond what is needed or affordable. Based on Qantas’ experience, the necessary first phase of this redevelopment could be delivered for significantly less than $3.9 billion, and we’re conscious that the final number will probably be higher, with cost overruns common to most large infrastructure projects.”
Featured Image: AKL Terminal expansion project. Image: Inovo.