Parties to explain airport deal angles

Vanessa Van Uden
Vanessa Van Uden
Representatives from all the parties involved in the controversial Queenstown-Auckland airports strategic alliance will address the new Queenstown Lakes District Council on Monday as part of a "workshop", Mayor Vanessa van Uden said yesterday.

The deal is subject to a High Court judicial review, to be heard in Christchurch in May, but Ms van Uden said it was important for the council, particularly new councillors, to be brought up to speed on the issues.

The Otago Daily Times reported this week the council had already spent more than $120,000 in litigation costs over the deal, which had Queenstown Airport create and sell a 24.99% new shareholding to Auckland for $27.7 million, announced in July.

Soon afterwards, the Queenstown Community Strategic Asset Group (QCSAG), comprising influential members of the Queenstown community, was formed to oppose the sale and the process used.

"What I'm really keen about is that the councillors, both new and returning, have the opportunity to have what has happened explained to them; discussions over litigation; and that they get to hear about the benefits and concerns about the deal from the various parties," the mayor said.

"QAC and AIAL are coming to talk to the councillors as well as representatives from [QCSAG] and Air New Zealand. It's an information-sharing opportunity to have questions asked [and] for those who have concerns to put those to the councillors."

Ms van Uden said "no decisions" would be made during the public-excluded workshop, but she hoped to be able to raise the issue publicly at a council meeting in the future to discuss the next steps.

"There needs to be a discussion in public ... around the council table about the options and ... what this council wants to do," Ms van Uden said.

In August the group and Air New Zealand lodged separate, but related applications in the High Court at Invercargill, seeking a judicial review and an injunction to stop Queenstown issuing any further shares.

Auckland wants to increase its interest in the airport to between 30% and 35% and has until June 30, 2011 to do that.


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