Tuesday’s council meeting has “confirmed our worst fears that Auckland International Airport Ltd is controlling the agenda and not Council via the SOI process,” said a post on Protect Wānaka’s Facebook page. “This is a case of the tail (Queenstown Airport Corporation) wagging the dog (Queenstown Lakes District Council). We've been asking for months how QLDC plans to control QAC (and what they do at Wānaka) now that Wānaka Airport has effectively been sold to them.”
Protect Wānaka reported that, “Mayor Jim Boult issued a stark warning to councillors today that moves to limit Queenstown airport growth could be challenged by Auckland Airport as a minority shareholder.”
However, yesterday, QLDC issued a statement saying, “The 2020 Statement of Expectations for the Queenstown Airport Corporation was the main focus of an extraordinary meeting of the QLDC this week, outlining what Councillors will be seeking from the Corporation’s upcoming Statement of Intent.
At the meeting, Mayor Jim Boult recognised that decisions made regarding the future of airport development in the district also needed to consider the Corporation’s minor shareholder, Auckland International Airport Ltd.
‘I felt it important to remind my fellow elected members that, even as the majority shareholder, we are not alone in this decision-making process. And that locking the QAC into such a definitive position without agreeing it with the other shareholder could be open to legal challenge from them. I personally feel it is right and proper to highlight such risks when making these decisions,’ said Mayor Boult.
‘That some have chosen to interpret my advice to surmise that Auckland International Airport is calling the shots is simply misleading nonsense. To be clear, AIAL has never discussed or highlighted any intention to take legal action. In fact, it is fully supportive of the Council’s current approach to pause all development at Wānaka and Queenstown whilst more information is gathered.’
‘Actually we have a positive and productive relationship with our minority shareholder, which has positively responded to the current airport impact assessments and plans to constructively engage with Council on any subsequent QAC-led masterplanning processes and consultations to shape the future of our district’s airports,’ added Mayor Boult.”
Despite the fears raised by Protect Wānaka, Auckland Airport spokesperson Mark Thomson clarified their role saying, “Auckland Airport respects and values our partnership with QLDC and we have never contemplated taking any legal action against them.
“We are very mindful that people have voiced concerns about regional growth and the role of air services, and we fully support the council’s decision to lead this process, including engaging extensively with the community and all other stakeholders.
“Auckland Airport is a minority shareholder in QAC with one seat on the board. We are proud of our association with Queenstown and we will continue to support QAC and the contribution it makes to the district and the community.”