ZQN’s departures

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Queenstown Airport Corporation is in the middle of a changing of the guard. 

Two top management staffers have departed in quick succession with long-serving aeronautical general manager and former airport boss Chris Read retiring in November last year. 

Steve Sanderson, the airport chief executive for four years, finished up last week – he’s been headhunted to be the new chief executive at Wellington Airport. 

Sanderson’s Queenstown replacement – Scott Pater-son, a port chief executive in Victoria, Australia – starts on March 1. 

Read, who logged 19 years at the airport including 15 years running the show, says the changes are all pretty normal as far as he’s concerned. 

“It’s a changing of the guard, no different than from any large public company having people move on. 

“The fact they haven’t called and said ‘We need you back in here for a week’, that’s a good sign,” Read jokes. 

Read says airport commercial manager Simon Barr has picked up most of his role. A lot of IT work previously done by operations manager Daniel Debono – who early last year also left for Wellington Airport – has been contracted out. 

“Those IT people can be very hard to find, and that’s now contracted out to a very good company – Dan was only doing it because he loved it,” Read says. 

Read says it’s likely a new project management type role will need to be created to help with upcoming terminal expansion plans. 

“The new chief executive will have to sit back and see what he wants. But it’s natural attrition and there’s certainly no holes there.” 

Read himself is supposed to be retired but it hasn’t quite worked out that way just yet. 

The 63-year-old has moved on to airport consultancy and says he’s doing some work for three airports in New Zealand, though not Queenstown. 

Read also has work lined up in the Pacific Islands. 

However, he says he still finds time to keep an eye on what’s happening at the Queenstown aerodrome. 

“We talk on a regular basis. I spent an hour in there yesterday,” he tells Mountain Scene last Friday. 

“That’s part of being with a company for a long time and enjoying the role. 

“I can still walk in there and sit down with people and have a cup of coffee,” he says.