An Austrian company has beaten a local supplier to win the contract to build two new fire appliances for Wellington Airport.
Wellington International Airport Limited, a company partly owned by Wellington City Council, has ordered two Rosenbauer Panther aviation fire appliance for a reported price of $2.8 million.
Airport fire service manager Daniel Debono confirmed the appliances had been ordered last month from the Austrian manufacturer, but declined to answer questions on the contract or the tender process, citing commercial confidentiality. The machines are due for delivery in December 2013.
Fraser Engineering of Lower Hutt also tendered to build the appliances for Wellington Airport.
Fraser sales manager Martin Simpson said their price had been less than $2.8m, their tender fully complied with the specifications and also included the first five years of maintenance.
"For five years they would not have had to spend another dollar," Mr Simpson said.
Fraser had experience with the machines, having built six for the Royal New Zealand Air Force, he said. It has also built appliances for many fire services in New Zealand and Australia.
Fraser's tender was a joint one with a third party, which would have supplied cab and chassis units.
"Certainly their [Rosenbauer's] product is bloody good, but they're not the only people in the world that can make these."
Last year German competition watchdog Bundeskartellamt imposed fines of more than [Euro]30 million on companies accused of dividing up Europe's airport fire appliances' market between them and illegally fixing prices.
Fines were imposed on IVECO Maidus Brandschutztechnik GmbH, Ulm Albert Ziegler GmbH and Co and Giengen an der Brenz, Schlingmann GmbH and Co. Rosenbauer was also involved, but let off a fine because it disclosed the cartel arrangement in a leniency plea in 2010.
Airport fire chief Vinnie Sharp said the existing machines were 23 years old and at the end of their useful life. They were also not consistent in their equipment layout. Their replacements would be bigger and faster.
They would also carry more foam and water to cater for larger aircraft, such as the Boeing 777, and Airbus A330 and A340, that could fly from Wellington in future, .
Infrastructure company Infratil owns two thirds of Wellington International Airport Ltd and Wellington City Council owns one third.
Last month the Commerce Commission accused the airport company of price gouging.
Commission deputy chairwoman Sue Begg said an information disclosure regime was working well, but did not appear to be stopping Wellington International Airport Ltd from extracting excessive profits from its monopoly.
Its target return on capital of 9.8 per cent was excessive and it appeared to be headed for an actual return of 10.18 per cent, she said.
- The Wellingtonian