Airport dumps unpopular departure tax

Last updated 05:00 18/12/2013

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Hamilton Airport has decided to can its $5 domestic departure tax. Effective from April 1, passengers catching flights out of the regional airport will no longer pay the departure levy.

The charge was set up to recoup costs associated with the $15.5 million spent on upgrading the airport's terminal, completed in 2007.

It applies to all domestic passengers aged 6 and over, and can be paid at the Postie Plus at the airport or at self-serve kiosks.

Hamilton Airport commercial general manager George Clark said the charge, which was first put into effect in 2008, had been a sore point for patrons.

"Passengers have long been asking for the departure levy . . . to be included in the airline ticket price," he said. "The removal of the levy streamlines the departure process for both passengers and airlines."

Mr Clark said the revenue would instead be recovered from the airlines.

The announcement comes in the wake of the airport's pricing consultation process with its airline customers.

Under the Airport Authorities Act, the airport is obligated to review its charges every five years.

That process started in early 2013, working in particular with Air New Zealand.

Further revisions will include an increase in airfield charges, or landing charges, equivalent to 37 cents per passenger.

The new charge will recover the cost of resealing the runway, a $4m project due to be commissioned early in 2014, over a 15-year period and at an estimated additional cost of $1.08 per passenger.

"The revised charges do not provide a full recovery for the airport on aeronautical assets," Mr Clark said.

"However, the airport needed to carefully consider both the implication of increased costs to the airlines and the financial performance of the airport."

He said the airport was committed to working with airlines to improve passenger numbers on existing routes, as well as services for Waikato travellers.

The revised charges will be published on the airport website.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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