Resort airport boss wants to avoid court

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Queenstown Airport Corporation wants to make love, not war, with its two court combatants. 

QAC chairman Mark Taylor says he’ll initiate peace talks with Air New Zealand and the Queens­­town Community Strategic Assets Group in an attempt to avert a High Court action scheduled for mid-May. 

“We’d definitely prefer to make peace rather than go to court,” Taylor admits. 

“If the other parties are willing to discuss matters within reasonable bounds, then [talks] are on the cards.” 

The legal action from Air NZ and QCSAG aims to overturn the council-owned resort airport’s sale of 24.99 per cent of its shares to Auckland International Airport last July. The deal was kept hush-hush until the ink dried, with only then-mayor Clive Geddes and two Queenstown Lakes District Council executives let into the secret. 

An outcry ensued about the deal and way it was done. 

In the wake of this controversy, Auckland Airport last week announced it will abandon – at least for now – a proposed second stage of the deal, which would have given Auckland the chance of buying a further 10 per cent shareholding with QLDC approval. 

As revealed in Mountain Scene last week, QCSAG will plough ahead with its court action, regardless of the second share purchase being abandoned. Taylor’s disappointed both QCSAG and Air NZ are continuing legal action – he hoped flagging the second share tranche would be seen as a “peace offering”. 

“We thought it was a significantly material [move] that would hopefully encourage them to withdraw from the proceedings.”