Covid-19: Govt rejected Auckland Airport offer of half-finished hotel as new MIQ

STUFF
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announces the plan to reopen New Zealand to the world in 2022. (first published November 27)

Auckland Airport offered an unfinished hotel to the Government as an additional managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facility – but the proposal did not get off the ground.

Stuff can reveal a discussion took place between airport representatives and the Government about the possibility of using the partially completed Hotel 4 / Mercure as an MIQ.

The Government did not take up the airport’s offer.

It is unclear when the discussion between officials and airport representatives happened.

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The Covid-19 pandemic put a temporary halt to construction of the Hotel 4, intended to be a three-star Mercure.

Work has been suspended on the Hotel 4 / Mercure at Auckland Airport until international tourism takes off again.
George Block/Stuff
Work has been suspended on the Hotel 4 / Mercure at Auckland Airport until international tourism takes off again.

Contractor Naylor Love has finished the exterior of the building, which is now weathertight, but the interior fit-out is on hold.

An Auckland Airport spokeswoman confirmed in an emailed statement the discussion had taken place, but the idea went no further.

“Auckland Airport talked to the Government on one occasion about the suitability of a partially completed hotel on site (the Mercure) as a future quarantine facility,” the statement said.

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“We signalled that an agreement would need to be in place for Auckland Airport to commit to restarting construction.

The 152-room hotel was formerly an office block but was extensively modified.
George Block/Stuff
The 152-room hotel was formerly an office block but was extensively modified.

“We never talked in any detail whatsoever or negotiated about what shape an agreement might take or what costs might be.”

It is unclear whether the restart of construction was dependent on the Government contract.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), which oversees MIQ, was tight-lipped on the discussions but confirmed it was looking at its options for future facilities.

“[MBIE] is continuing to explore medium and long-term options for a stable, flexible and enduring future quarantine infrastructure and operating model,” a statement said.

Due to commercial sensitivities MBIE would not be naming any of the locations or sites that were being considered, or negotiations taking place, the statement said.

“Any final decision about the future model will be made by Cabinet.”