Queenstown Airport boss Colin Keel resigns

by Peter Newport - Apr 07, 2021

The controversial CEO of the Queenstown Airport Corporation, Colin Keel, has today announced his resignation. He will leave at the end of the QAC's financial year, June 20th.

Mr Keel has been at the head of the QAC executive team during a period when the community consistently voted for limited or zero airport growth in spite of Mr Keel's enthusiasm for development of Wanaka airport and the potential for Queenstown airport to eventually grow to a 5 million a year passenger capacity - pre-Covid.

Colin Keel (centre) during a presentation to a full council meeting of the QLDC

The QAC is also at the centre of a judicial review that focusses on whether the QAC and parent shareholder QLDC were completely transparent in their presentations to the community on the issue of airport expansion, and in particualr on the details of a long term QAC lease over Wanaka airport.

Airport comms and PR person Sara Irvine has told Crux this afternoon that she intends to stay in her role.

Here is this afternoon's full statement from the Queenstown Airport Corporation:

"The board of directors of Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) announces the resignation of Chief Executive, Colin Keel after leading the business and serving the Southern Lakes community for five years.

Mr Keel will continue in his role until the end of the current financial year to complete the stabilisation of the business and position it for recovery following what has been the most challenging period in the company’s history due to the impacts of COVID-19.  He will then relocate to Auckland to pursue other opportunities.

QAC Chair, Adrienne Young-Cooper, has recognised Mr Keel’s significant contribution to the business and its shareholders over many years, through both a time of exponential regional growth and more recently the difficult COVID-19 period.  “Colin has demonstrated the agility and courage required of a leader in two very different and extreme operating environments. He has been unfailing in his commitment to the success of QAC, and the broader airport community as well as the place of Queenstown and Wanaka airports in the region,” said Ms Young-Cooper.

Mr Keel said: “It has been a privilege leading the business over such a period of change. The QAC team and all those who work at the airports are hard-working, dedicated members of the community and committed to its wellbeing.  Despite the current challenges, the future is full of tremendous opportunities for the business, airports and region.”

The board of directors will now begin a formal search process to select Mr Keel’s successor."

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