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Sun 29 Jul 2007 09:41 AM

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Air NZ opposes Auckland airport sale

Air New Zealand plans to petition authorities, concerned about Dubai Aerospace Enterprise links to Emirates.

Air New Zealand plans to petition the country’s foreign investment regulator to stop the sale of Auckland International Airport to Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE), it said on Saturday.

The airline is strongly opposed to the proposed takeover by state-owned DAE because of its close links to Dubai’s flagship carrier Emirates, stating that it did not want any airline getting preferential treatment, reported New Zealand’s Herald on Sunday.

DAE chairman Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum is also chairman of Emirates.

“Air New Zealand intends to make a detailed submission to the Overseas Investment Commission,” the airline said in a statement.

"It is Air New Zealand's strong view that the owner of Auckland International Airport should not be linked in any form to an airline, so that there is no possibility of preferential treatment of any kind that would disadvantage any other operators,” it added.

Analysts have speculated that if Dubai's $2.08 billion bid for a controlling stake in New Zealand main airport is successful, it will become a secondary hub for Emirates, from which it will launch routes to the West coast of the US and to the Americas.

DAE has denied Emirates will get preferential treatment, with Sheikh Ahmed stating that the two companies “operate independently”, reported Business Intelligence Middle East.

Air New Zealand also said it has filed for a judicial review of a 13% rise in landing charges over the next five years imposed by Auckland airport.

The airline has been complaining for a long time over charges levied by the airport.

“All that Air New Zealand seeks is an effective regulatory framework that ensures an end to the monopoly abuse that sees travellers and airlines using this important gateway to our nation being burdened with excessive charges,” Air New Zealand said.

DAE’s bid for Auckland airport has stirred up controversy in the country, with some MPs calling on the government to block the deal.

Foreign Minister and leader of the New Zealand First Party Winston Peters has described the proposed sale is a "totally unnecessary sell out", while Finance Minister Michael Cullen has said the government will take national interest into account when deciding whether to approve the acquisition.

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