Auckland councillors have narrowly voted to retain business class travel for council staff.

Councillors today voted 9-8 to stick with the policy of flying business class on international flights longer than eight hours.

Council officers will still have to fly economy class on flights of up to eight hours but can fly business class on longer flights if they start work immediately.

They could fly premium economy or economy class if they travel a day earlier.

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The move to abolish business class travel was led by councillors Efeso Collins and John Watson.

They said this "corporate-style excess is a terrible look when the Auckland public is being told how tight things are".

They said last year it was revealed that in a 20-month period, the Auckland Council spent more than $1.1 million on international travel, $509,212 of which was on business class flights.

The decision was made at today's governing body meeting during an update of the council's policy on sensitive expenditure.

It does not apply to councillors, who follow the staff rules and sometimes fly business class.

How they voted:
To retain business class travel
Mayor Phil Goff
Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore
Josephine Bartley
Ross Clow
Linda Cooper
Alf Filipaina
Richard Hills
Penny Hulse
John Walker

To abolish business class travel
Cathy Casey
Efeso Collins
Mike Lee
Daniel Newman
Greg Sayers
Sharon Stewart
Wayne Walker
John Watson