Christchurch Airport waiting in wings to get in on Queenstown action

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Christchurch International Airport is offering to fund Queenstown Airport development – and won’t demand a shareholding to do so. 

That’s the latest play in the high-stakes controversy over last month’s sell-off of 24.99 per cent of the resort airport to publicly-listed Auckland International Airport. 

The Christchurch offer has been conveyed in a letter to Queenstown Airport Corporation, Christchurch Airport boss Jim Boult says. 

“We’ve said that if – for any reason – the Auckland deal wasn’t consummated, then we’d be prepared to consider, subject obviously to reaching agreement on a number of matters, assisting QAC with funding for its capital-expense programme. 

“And we would not require a shareholding to do that.” 

Christchurch has “quite substantial unused bank reserves” to lend to QAC, Boult adds. 

His airport is 75 per cent owned by Christchurch City Council and 25 per cent by the Crown. 

QAC owner Queenstown Lakes District Council has the option of selling up to a further 10 per cent to Auckland but Boult says the entire northern deal – including the 24.99 per cent already sold – must be unwound to secure Christchurch development money. 

“We’re saying we’d only do this if the deal with Auckland didn’t proceed and was reversed in some fashion.
“It’s an all-or-nothing deal,” Boult says. 

Christchurch has also offered QAC several joint initiatives to drive market growth and save operational costs at both airports, Boult says. 

The resort airport’s costly development programme – put at a minimum of $16m during the next five years – has been cited as one of the drivers behind the Auckland deal. 

QAC chairman Mark Taylor says Christchurch has approached his airport and QLDC “a number of times” but none of the suggestions have been taken up. 

This latest approach is no different, Taylor says.