Council makes moves at airports

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The recruitment drive is on for new faces on Queenstown Airport Corporation’s board of directors.

Queenstown Lakes District Council has announced it is advertising two positions from this weekend – seeking someone who can be appointed the short-term chair of the board, plus an additional director.

Queenstown Airport’s previous board chairman Mark Taylor was forced to resign by QLDC in April for his part in a controversial secret share sale of QAC to Auckland International Airport Limited.

AIAL purchased 24.99 per cent for $27.7million in July 2010. Outrage followed – from the community and councillors who were unaware of the deal before it was signed.

Incumbent board member Murray Valentine has been acting as interim chairman till the September annual general meeting.

QLDC regulatory and corporate general manager Roger Taylor says effective governance by the board is essential to the continued development of the airport and the economic well-being of the district.

“We are seeking directors that can bring key governance skills such as strategic development, internal assurance and financial acumen who are also familiar with the additional layer of public accountability and responsibility for the board of a council-controlled company,” he says.

Applications for the positions close on close July 29.

Meanwhile, QLDC has ironically bought the Aspiring Air building and lease at Wanaka Airport for $220,000 – in secret.

The council also agreed to write-off $28,136 in Aspiring Air arrears.

The purchase was decided behind closed doors on June 28, finance boss and deputy CEO Stewart Burns says.

“Unfortunately the sensitivity of this commercial negotiation precluded any public conversation regarding the purchase. Given the budget was already available for terminal expenditure the decision places no additional burden on the ratepayer,” Burns says.

The site is a “strategically important location” – directly opposite the main sealed apron and the taxiway to the runway – which is earmarked for future terminal development.

The lease expires in 2017.

The capital budget for Wanaka’s airport includes $3.36m related to development of a passenger terminal over 10-years.

“Much of this was provided on the assumption that we would need to build our own facility. The purchase of the Aspiring Air building means that we can defer most of this cost,” Burns says.