Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Queenstown Airport: Loud Voices & Loyalty

Yep, just like some folk down in Queenstown and management of Air New Zealand Ltd [AIR.NZ] at their plush new head office in the most expensive real estate in the country, in Auckland, I am fired up about Air New Zealand's attack on Auckland International Airports [AIA.NZ] buyout of nearly 25% of Queenstown Airport.

Management met with some Queenstown council drones yesterday to assuage their fears that the airport was stolen from the Queenstown ratepayers but it looks like there are a few loud voices down there filling newspaper and webspace in the hope they are noticed before local elections latter on this year. The majority of ratepayers must be pleased that the nearly $30 million that AIA paid for their share of the port might just be put to paying off council debt, if councillors do their jobs properly. This would mean less of a rates rise in 2011 and wouldn't that be a good platform to stand on for election.

There is an agreement by AIA and those on the council side of the airport deal for Auckland Airport to raise their 27.7% stake up to 35% but unless there is a firm deal to do that it looks like this deal could be compromised by the chatter.

As I said in my second post of this deal Air New Zealand's poke at AIA for being "anti - competitive, greedy and monopolistic" is kind of laughable considering the way the company has been ripping off New Zealanders for decades with sky high fares and their own monopolistic business practices and this story out today about an Air New Zealand's Starfish Card a "loyalty programme" that will cost users $800 per annum in order to get a regional flight discount is surely evidence that the airline will do anything as long as there is no competition to keep them honest.

Why not just charge customers lower fares ?

Answer? Because they don't have to as they have no competition in this area of their business.

This is the very reason Air NZ has taken a shot across the bow of Auckland Airport and clearly makes little sense given they continue to rort their "loyal" customers.

Meanwhile the NBR reports that AIA management are "bemused" by AIR NZ's public outbursts and I would have to agree and I must add confused by the AIR move.

Sour grapes.

Disc I own AIA shares in the Share Investor Portfolio

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