Air New Zealand (ANZ) and a Queenstown-based lobby group opposed to Auckland International Airport's (AIA) purchase of a stake in Queenstown Airport have challenged the deal in New Zealand's High Court.

The carrier and the Queenstown Community Strategic Assets Group filed proceedings against AIA today, asking for a judicial review of the sale.

Queenstown Airport and its majority shareholder, Queenstown Lakes District Council, were also named as defendants in the proceedings.

AIA announced in early July that it had reached an agreement with Queenstown Airport's major owner, Queenstown Lakes District Council, to buy a 24.99% stake for NZ$27.7 million ($19.5 million). The two airports also plan to form an alliance.

ANZ and the lobby group say the deal undermines competition, and ANZ has said it wants to lead a consortium of airlines to purchase a stake in Queenstown Airport.

The airline has had disputes with AIA over airport fees and charges, and believes that AIA's stake in Queenstown Airport will increase similar costs at the airport.

In response to the proceedings served against it today, AIA says the claims are "without merit" and adds that it will "strongly defend the proceedings".

"It is unfortunate that these legal proceedings have been brought by parties who wish to attempt to frustrate an alliance intended to deliver great benefit to the development of the tourism industry in the Queenstown Lakes District. We believe these parties have vested interests and do not necessarily have the well-being of the wider Queenstown community at heart," it adds.

AIA also says New Zealand's competition regulator Commerce Commission has informed it that it will not conduct an investigation into its purchase of a stake in Queensland Airport.

"The Commerce Commission considers the acquisition is unlikely to give rise to a substantial lessening of competition in a market," adds AIA.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news