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Types of airport authorities

The main types of airport authorities are local authorities, such as local and district councils, and airport companies, such as Auckland International Airport.  

Who requires airport authority status

Airport authority status is not required to own, operate or manage an airport in New Zealand. However, all airports must abide by Civil Aviation Rules relating to safety and security. Many airports also require certification to operate from the Civil Aviation Authority.

Granting airport authority status

Most New Zealand airports already operate under airport authority status, which is granted by the Government. As new airports are rarely established in New Zealand, the Government does not grant airport authority status often, unless airport owners or operators change.

Airport authority status was granted to 2 organisations in 2020.

Briefing paper: Application for authority status – West Auckland and Great Barrier Island Airports [PDF, 1.5 MB]

North Shore Airport

The Minister of Transport has decided not to make a recommendation to the Governor General to grant airport authority status to North Shore Aero Club. We consulted on the proposal in 2020.

Consultation: North Shore Airport's authority status application

Email Submissions North Shore Airport Part 1 [PDF, 23 MB]

Email Submissions North Shore Airport Part 2 [PDF, 21 MB]

Email Submissions North Shore Airport Part 3 [PDF, 2 MB]

Online Survey Submissions North Shore Airport [XLSX, 80 KB]

West Auckland Airport, Parakai

The Government granted airport authority status to West Auckland Airport Company Limited for an airport it manages at Parakai, northwest Auckland. This came into effect on 1 April 2020.

We consulted on the proposal in 2019.

West Auckland Airport Authority Submissions 2019 [PDF, 5.1 MB]

West Auckland Airport Authority Decision 2020: Questions and Answers  [PDF, 25 KB]

Cabinet paper: Airport Authorities (West Auckland Airport Company Limited) Order 2020 [PDF, 637 KB]

Cabinet minute: Airport Authorities (West Auckland Airport Comapny Limited) Order 2020 [PDF, 678 KB]

Auckland Transport

The Government granted airport authority status to Auckland Transport for the aerodromes Auckland Council owns on Great Barrier Island. This came into effect on 1 April 2020.

Auckland Transport takes over the authority from Auckland Council, which previously held airport authority status for the Great Barrier Island airports.

Cabinet paper: Auckland Authorities (Auckland Transport) Order 2020 [PDF, 636 KB]

Cabinet minute: Airport Authorities (Auckland Transport) Order 2020 [PDF, 678 KB]

Airport authority powers

Airport authorities have powers under New Zealand legislation such as the ability to make bylaws and acquire land under the Public Works Act. The main powers are restrained by central or local government, to prevent misuse and protect the interests of the wider community. This is particularly the case for airport authorities that are companies as opposed to airport authorities that are councils.

Some airport authorities can apply to the Minister of Lands for the compulsory acquisition of land. They are also network utility operators and can apply to the Minister for the Environment to become a requiring authority. If approved, this means they can give notice to a local authority to designate land for a particular use under the district plan.

You can find more information about requiring authorities on the Ministry for the Environment’s website.

About requiring authorities(external link)

Airport authority responsibilities and obligations

The Ombudsman can investigate the decisions, acts and recommendations of all airport authorities.

Unless they are local authorities, airport authorities:

  • must consult with major customers when setting or altering charges, such as landing fees, and then again within 5 years of doing so
  • are classed as public entities and can be audited by the Auditor-General, which means they must meet requirements for information gathering and disclosure.

Airport authorities owned substantially by local or central government are subject to the:

  • Official Information Act
  • Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act

These Acts require information held by central and local government bodies to be publicly available.