With a report still under review by New Zealand's Commerce Commission on whether to regulate airport charges, the timing of Wellington airport's 78% fee increase could hardly have been worse.

New Zealand does not regulate airport charges, but for the past four years the commission has been investigating whether it should. On release of the commission's final report to the commerce minister last August, it appeared that Wellington might escape unscathed. The report concluded that Auckland was the only airport needing price controls.

But Wellington sought court review of the report before it announced its own price hike. The review is still pending.

Wellington's hefty fee rise has drawn protests from airlines and IATA. Even Auckland airport is critical. Its chief executive John Goultercalls Wellington's action "cavalier". He fears it "will force the government to take a blanket approach to the industry".

Source: Airline Business