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'Eating profit like a horse' - Shane Jones slams Auckland Airport's board over runway closures

Shane Jones has slammed Auckland Airport's board following the airport's runway closing twice within two weeks due to maintenance.

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The Infrastructure Minister shared his views on the airport’s runway closing twice within two weeks for maintenance. Source: 1 NEWS

Around 2000 passengers were disrupted in a runway closure yesterday, 1 NEWS understands. Another maintenance closure on January 24 saw two international flights and three domestic flights diverted due to debris on the tarmac.

Auckland Airport has today launched a formal review into the recent closures, but Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones told 1 NEWS the airport's board is to blame for not spending last year's "$500 million" profit more wisely. 

"Look the airport is one New Zealand's largest companies, I suspect they're eating the profit like a horse and making a pig out of our country's reputation," said Mr Jones. 

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Urgent warnings have been sent to pilots globally about the safety of the runway. Source: 1 NEWS

""I expect these kinds of problems in maintaining the bridges in the back and beyond of rural New Zealand, not at the international gateway."

Mr Jones says substantial amounts of capital need to be put back into the business. 

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"When you gorge on profit - half a billion - and you starve the business of decent levels of capital to maintain quality infrastructure you get this problem," he says.

"Twenty one million people arrived at that airport last year - half a billion dollars worth of profit - and they've obviously skimped."

In the wake of the closures, Mr Jones is calling for regulation. 

"In my view we should be taking forward necessary measures to regulate them," he says. 

"If you can’t run the day to day business in an ordinary course of a week then in my view you start to lose your social license."

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Diverted passengers sit on tarmac for over an hour after debris found on Auckland Airport runway

The International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations said yesterday in a statement that it has concerns about the fact that there is only one runway, about foreign objects found on the runway, and about the increasing frequency of runway closures.

In a statement today Auckland Airport said: "The last thing we want is for people's travel plans to be disrupted, but safety is our top priority and we have no tolerance for debris or defects which may compromise this".

The airport's formal review is expected to take place over the next three weeks.