Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Airport fast-track arrivals queue slated to go user-pays

People with a return ticket to or from New Zealand are now hit with a total charge of about $22, included in the price of their airfare. Photo / Doug Sherring
People with a return ticket to or from New Zealand are now hit with a total charge of about $22, included in the price of their airfare. Photo / Doug Sherring

Passengers wanting to skip airport arrival queues will have to pay for the privilege.

One in five transtasman travellers are expected to be part of the "trusted traveller" scheme within five years, which means they should clear Customs 30 per cent faster than average.

A two-year pilot outlined in the May Budget involves selected regular transtasman travellers providing information before they reach the border to enable an "advanced risk assessment".

Documents released under the Official Information Act by Customs Minister Nicky Wagner's office show that, if rolled out beyond the two-year pilot, the scheme would be "cost recovered" - meaning passengers will pay.

Travellers in the pilot scheme could have the use of dedicated exit lanes.

A spokesman for Wagner confirmed that the ongoing costs of the scheme would be met by passengers, not the Government.

Wagner has previously said she doesn't expect airport rage among those not entitled to the fast-track scheme, saying it would speed processing times for everyone.

Recovering the cost of the border scheme would come after January's introduction of a border clearance levy, designed to eventually cover the cost of clearing passengers through airports and cruise ship terminals.

People with a return ticket to or from New Zealand are now hit with a total charge of about $22, included in the price of their airfare.

Figures supplied to the Herald show in the first five months of the levy Customs and Ministry for Primary Industries jointly took in $27.72 million excluding GST - above the forecast income of $20.22 million.

The agencies said the increased levy take was from higher than expected passenger numbers.

- NZ Herald

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