Auckland Airport has backed down on office rental rises for airline customers, saving them about $1 million over the next three years.

While retailers have been stung with increases of up to 40 per cent, airlines say the airport company has listened to them over office rents in the terminal.

Airlines and the airport company are frequently at loggerheads over charges, so praise by the Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand is a rare one. The airlines even say the relationship may have ''turned the corner''.

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Barnz executive director Justin Tighe-Umbers said the internal office space for the airlines was set to rise more than 50 per cent in some cases, but these have now been significantly cut back following negotiations.

Airlines have about 30 offices in the terminal.

While still an increased cost for airlines, the new levels were realistic in the light of a downturn in airfreight throughout Asia-Pacific and some airlines dropping routes.

"There are certainly changes in the industry in response to a slowdown in tourism numbers and increased costs, so every dollar counts for airlines," he said.

Jetstar has announced it will quit flying regional routes from next month, Virgin Australia plans to cut back some flights across the Tasman and global trade tension has hit air freight around the world.

"Barnz is quick to challenge the airport company on any fee hikes it imposed on its airlines members and is often strongly critical," said Tighe-Umbers.

''I think this is another sign the airline-Auckland Airport relationship has turned a corner and it is focused on working together to build the airport of the future."

An airport spokeswoman said the company was ''pleased to receive feedback'' from the airlines regarding rents for office space within the International Terminal.


Barnz has 27 airline members and four non-airline members.

Earlier this year Auckland Airport bowed to pressure after a Commerce Commission report and cut charges to airlines by $33 million over five years.

But the airport is defending claims its hit some retailers too hard with rental rises of between 25 per cent and 40 per cent during the last three years.

Some retailers say rent hikes, and increased competition has made running a profitable business in the international terminal increasingly tough.

There are three main types of tenancies at the Auckland International Terminal - airline backroom offices, premium lounges and retail.