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Airport faces claims of monopolistic behaviour

By Graeme Kennedy

Friday 1st September 2000

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AIR HIKER: Auckland International Airport has hiked its landing prices to almost double that of Australian airports
Super-profitable Auckland International Airport is under fire for alleged monopolistic behaviour after hiking its landing fees to almost double the cost of landing in Australia.

The Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand (Barnz) said it hoped to meet Transport Minister Mark Gosche in the next week to discuss the situation which it said "smacked of pure monopolistic behaviour."

The listed airport company is expected to announce its second consecutive record profit today, drawing attention to the 18.5% landing fee increase which has already angered airlines.

Managing director John Goulter announced the landing fee increases 10 days ago. They begin today with an 8.5% rise and is followed by 5% on September 1, 2001 and another 5% on September 1, 2002. The airport development charge, or departure tax, will increase $2 from October 1, costing passengers $22 to leave the country.

Auckland charges $9000 in landing fees for a Boeing 747-400 compared with $5700 at Sydney, $5000 at Melbourne and $4500 in Brisbane. A 767-300 costs $4800 to land at Auckland compared with Sydney's $2700, and a 737-300 costs $2000 at Auckland compared with $900 at Sydney and $800 at Melbourne.

Auckland will today have 15 767 and 12 747 scheduled landings - bringing in $180,000 in landing fees.

Barnz executive director Stewart Milne said AIAL was over-recovering and that landing and passenger charges should be decreased rather than increased. "AIAL is a very profitable company which is experiencing considerable growth in passenger numbers and aircraft movements and revenues," Mr Milne said. "It has revalued its assets and used this as the basis for increasing its charges - this is typical monopoly behaviour and unacceptable to the airlines, which are working in an extremely competitive environment."

Industry analysts said AIAL's result will eclipse the 1999 profit of $42.4 million, a record which exceeded forecasts by more than 20%.

The airport company is expected to have increased revenues during the 1999-00 year from its retail and property activities and higher aircraft traffic.

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