Airport fee hike gets hoteliers hopping mad

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 05:00 12/11/2012

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Christchurch motel and hotel owners are "livid" at new airport charges that will see them pay $10 a visit to pick up guests in courtesy vans.

Operators have labelled the Christchurch International Airport (CIAL) fee, starting on December 1, "anti-tourism" and out of line with what their Auckland and Wellington counterparts pay.

Those North Island airports charged about $2 a visit, one accommodation provider said, which was more acceptable.

CIAL said some transport providers, such as taxis, were paying more in "courtesy vehicle licences", and the increased charges brought all commercial operators into line.

One motelier said the price hike made no sense when Canterbury tourism was still trying to recover from the earthquakes of 2010-11.

"I've rung around just about everybody and they're all livid, as you can imagine."

Charges would be passed on to visitors, he said.

Another motelier, who did not want to be named, said many businessmen visiting Christchurch were already unhappy at the $10 airport charge on a taxi fare to his nearby business.

The fee turned an $11 trip into an average $24 fare, he said. He believed the airport was trying to pass on as many costs as possible of its $237 million upgrade.

Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter said he had received a number of calls from business owners alarmed about the new charges.

"My concern would be if people that operate hospitality services in terms of accommodation around the airport actually decide to drop that (courtesy) service."

He planned to talk to the airport, and was consulting with the industry.

Bruce Garrett, Tourism Industry Association regional chairman, hotels, said one hotel he represented would now be charged $70,000 a year by the airport. "The proposal is well above what Auckland and Wellington [airports] are charging."

CIAL chief commercial officer Blair Forgie said the airport had done an "extensive review" of pricing, and decided to replace existing charges, which varied between operators, with a flat fee. Operators were not consulted in the review.

Some existing commercial users, apart from taxis, already paid up to $10 for a pickup or visit, Forgie said.

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- The Press

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