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Akld Airport putting profit before public service?

2 September 2005

Is Akld Airport putting profit ahead of public service?

Green Co-Leader Rod Donald wants answers from Auckland International Airport Company, which appears to have put the pursuit of profit ahead of public service.

Mr Donald is among thousands of Kiwis and visitors whose travel plans have been disrupted at Auckland International Airport today because the backup generator for the runway lights isn't working. Fog at the airport has reduced visibility under 800m, the required level for when the backup generator is not working. Planes can take off with as little as 350m visibility when the backup generator is working.

"It's extraordinary that a company that's just posted a profit of $100 million isn't properly maintaining plant and equipment as vital as a backup generator," Mr Donald said. "It makes us look like a Third World country when our biggest airport can't even keep the lights on.

"This is a classic example of why strategic infrastructure should be in public ownership. The company appears to have put shareholder profit ahead of providing a high-quality public service.

"The Greens aren't about to advocate renationalising Auckland International Airport. However, I would note that the right-wing constantly claims that the private sector can do everything better than the public service, despite considerable evidence to the contrary.

"This is another reminder, along with Air New Zealand and Tranz Rail, of why it's preferable that strategic infrastructure be kept in public ownership rather than held hostage by corporate greed.

Mr Donald's 7am flight to Napier was cancelled along with dozens of others. He was then booked on a 7.30am to Christchurch, which at 10am was still sitting on the airport's runway.


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