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Ngāi Tahu Tourism drops bid to buy K Jet

Dec 23, 2023

Ngāi Tahu Tourism has formally withdrawn its application to the Commerce Commission for clearance to acquire KJet.

The Commerce Commission had recently agreed with Ngāi Tahu Tourism an extension until 26 March 2024 by which to make a decision.

The Commerce Commission had previously stated that it was not yet satisfied that the merger "would not substantially lessen competition", and that it could allow for higher prices, and a reduction in quality, customer choice and innovation.

The competition watchdog released a preliminary statement of issues on Thursday, October 19 suggesting the merger of KJet and Shotover Jet under the same ownership would allow Ngāi Tahu Tourism to have too much control over the market.

The statement said these two jet boating companies are "close competitors", and by combining ownership competitive constraints will be lost.

"The merged entity would have a substantial share of revenues, passenger numbers and capacity in the market for the supply of tourist jet boating services in Tāhuna," the Commerce Commission's statement says.

It said that other jet boating companies in Queenstown would not be able to produce enough competition for the merged entity, especially because existing companies operate on a smaller scale, provide different offerings and are in different areas.

The Commerce Commission's investigations also show it is quite difficult for new operators to enter the Queenstown jet-boating market due to resource consent challenges, and the difficulty of finding wharf space.

The Commerce Commission said it will only give clearance to the proposed merger if its investigation shows the merger will not create a substantial lessening of competition in the market.

The competition watchdog has been busy investigating Queenstown Lakes merger's recently, and this month approved for RealNZ to purchase the Spirit of Queenstown as a second vessel to ferry customers to its Walter Peak farm show and restaurant. 

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