Airport Consultation Press Release

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Date:
Dec 14, 2010

Consultation with the community over Queenstown Airport ownership will be considered by the Queenstown Lakes District Council at Friday’s full council meeting, QLDC chief executive Debra Lawson said.

“The background report accompanying the recommendations is available on the Council website from today. It is good to be on the brink of having a conversation with the wider community, in the public arena, about the options before us all,” Ms Lawson said.

The agenda item was to provide information to the Council about the issue of shares by Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) to Auckland International Airport Limited (AIAL), and outline a process for community consultation.

The proposed consultation was intended to be accessible to all parts of the community, and enable a broad range of possible views to be included.

“We need to ensure all the different voices have the opportunity to be heard and that the community has been able to access information to help them reach an informed view,” Ms Lawson said.

In addition to the formal submission process, the Council proposed conducting qualitative research via an independent phone survey, launching an online survey and seeking feedback via a special edition newsletter, capturing all ‘out-of-town’ ratepayers.   

“We want to make it a multi-faceted approach because we want to make sure we are throwing the net wide on this exceedingly important issue,’ Ms Lawson said.

Earlier this year the QAC issued nearly a quarter of the shares in QAC to AIAL.

“That decision leaves the Council in a position where it must now decide how to proceed,” Ms Lawson said.

It could only now do so having involved the community.

QAC received $27.7 million from the issue of the shares which it had used to reduce
debt and save approximately $2.4 million per annum in interest and other costs. It
was possible that the Council would be asked to approve a second issue of shares to
AIAL but that request had yet to be received.

“There has been both concern and support expressed by some parts of the community
but the Council has been unable, until now, to consult with the community to get
an understanding of the broader community’s views on the matter,” she said.

This was due to High Court proceedings, lodged in August and local body elections
which occurred in early October.

“We know that the community has some legitimate questions to which it deserves some answers like: What is the impact for the community? What would the second issue of shares mean? And what are the benefits and costs?” Ms Lawson said.

“To assist the community in considering these matters, the Council will be asked at the meeting to approve the development of a discussion document and the three tiered approach to consultation as outlined,” she said.

To further inform community opinion, PricewaterhouseCoopers had been engaged
to provide independent commercial advice on the merits of the transaction.

“The information in this report will be captured and made publicly available in the
discussion document,” she said.

If approved, it was hoped to get the consultation underway early in the New Year.

ENDS

For further comment please contact Debra Lawson 03 441 0499.

By: Meaghan Miller