Q'town Airport - flights reduced, CEO pay cut, staff to work from home

Mar 16, 2020

This statement has just been released by the Queenstown Airport Corporation. Colin Keel is to take a 20% pay cut until the end of the year - that's around $110,000 of his $550,000 salary.

"Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) has increased its COVID-19 response as a result of the developments over the weekend, which included new travel restrictions being imposed at New Zealand’s borders and the confirmation of Queenstown’s first Coronavirus case*.

QAC Acting Chair, Adrienne Young-Cooper says that the Government-introduced travel restrictions are “strict but necessary” and the company is doing everything it can to care for its airport communities and mitigate the public health risk and potential wider economic impacts.

“These new restrictions will affect QAC and other aviation and airport related business operations at Queenstown and Wanaka airports,”

“At Queenstown Airport, we expect a significant reduction in passenger movements from today onwards which will have an immediate impact on our airport community, the region and the national economy,” said Mrs Young-Cooper.

“Queenstown Airport is a lifeline utility, so we are proactively taking steps to try to contain and slow the spread of COVID-19 and maintain our airport operations. We have been working through a number of scenarios to ensure the continuing operation of Queenstown Airport and its ongoing resilience within the context of the new border restrictions.”

QAC CEO Colin Keel

QAC Chief Executive Colin Keel says: “We know that this is an unsettling time and our first priority is the health, safety and wellbeing of our people, including staff, airport communities, customers, and the wider community,”

“From today, Queenstown Airport staff who are not operationally essential are required and supported to work from home until further notice, in an effort to safeguard their health and support operational resilience,”

“The cleaning and sanitisation programme at Queenstown Airport was increased in January and continues, with a focus on high-touch and high-traffic areas and bathrooms. Hand sanitiser stations are in place throughout the terminal and public education in line with Ministry of Health advice is being promoted across the airport to the whole airport community and the travelling public,”

“Over the weekend and today, we’ve been working with airlines and agencies to gather the latest information and understand its implications and impacts. We’ll provide updates to our airport communities and the public as soon as more detail is confirmed, said Mr Keel.

The organisers of Warbirds over Wanaka announced yesterday that this year’s airshow at Easter has been cancelled. NASA has today confirmed that it has cancelled this year’s super pressure balloon launch from Wanaka Airport which was scheduled for mid-April. 

“We share the disappointment of the Warbirds and NASA teams, as we know how much work has already gone into the preparations, but we fully support their call,” said Mr Keel.
The Government travel restriction measures are currently in place until 31 March. However, the board and executive of QAC are working on the assumption that these could be in place for a longer period.

Further information:

  • Flight information: Queenstown Airport’s flight information can be accessed online.  Please note that schedule changes are updated daily.
  • Financial forecasts: All non-critical expenditure is under review and QAC will be reducing/delaying costs that are not an immediate priority to prudently manage its cash-flow in the coming weeks and months. Chief Executive, Colin Keel is taking a voluntary 20% pay cut until the end of the financial year. QAC will be revising financial forecasts on a weekly basis.
  • Regional response: Queenstown and Wanaka airports are part of the district’s emergency response team and are following all advice and actions from the lead agency (Ministry of Health) as well as working alongside local key agencies on the community response.
  • Local business support:  QAC has joined the newly formed Business Response Group.
  • Latest updates: Visit Queenstown Airport’s website https://www.queenstownairport.co.nz/corporate/covid-19 for the latest COVID-19 updates, advice and actions




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