The Airport Authorities Act 1966 allows for the authorisation of airport authorities.

Status as an airport authority provides certain powers, responsibilities and obligations under New Zealand legislation. There are a number of airports in New Zealand operating under airport authority status. These range from large international airports such as Auckland, through to smaller airfields such as Omarama in Southern Canterbury.

The powers, responsibilities and obligations of particular note are listed below.


  • Airport authorities are network utility operators under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA). This allows them to apply to the Minister for the Environment for approval to become a requiring authority(external link). Among other things, requiring authority status allows an organisation to give notice to a local authority (council) to designate land for a particular use under the district plan.
  • Airport authorities have the power to make their own bylaws, subject to government approval.
  • Airport authorities are deemed government works for the purposes of the Public Works Act 1981. This allows them to apply to the Minister of Lands for the compulsory acquisition of land.

The main powers available to an airport authority are restrained through central or local government decision-making, to prevent misuse, and protect the interests of the wider community which they serve.

Responsibilities and obligations

  • Airport authorities (except those which are local authorities) must consult with substantial customers when setting or altering charges, and within five years of setting or altering a charge.
  • Airport authorities (except those which are local authorities) are classed as public entities under the Public Audit Act 2001. The Auditor-General is the auditor of public entities, and public entities are subject to the information-gathering and disclosure of information requirements of that Act.
  • Airport authorities are subject to the Ombudsman Act 1975. The Ombudsman has functions under that Act to investigate decisions, acts and recommendations made by individuals and entities subject to that Act.

North Shore Airport’s application for Airport Authority Status

We are currently consulting on North Shore Airport's application to become an airport authorty. Submissions close 11.59pm, 9 November 2020. 

North Shore Airport's Application for Authority Status

Recent decisions made on airport authority status

West Auckland Airport, Parakai

Government has recently decided to grant airport authority status to West Auckland Airport Company Limited with respect to an airport it manages at Parakai, Northwest Auckland. This comes into effect on 1 April 2020.

The Ministry consulted on the proposal in 2019.

Auckland Transport

Government has recently decided to grant airport authority status to Auckland Transport, with respect to the aerodromes Auckland Council owns on Great Barrier Island. This comes into effect on 1 April 2020.

Auckland Transport takes over from Auckland Council, who previously held airport authority status with respect to the Great Barrier Island airports. The Council has recently decided to consolidate responsibility for managing the airports with Auckland Transport.

 View the briefing to the Minister of Transport on the Auckland Transport and West Auckland Airport authorisations [PDF, 1.5 MB]