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Passenger growth, after-dark flights and infrastructure improvements drive strong result for Queenstown Airport Corporation

August 24, 2017 Airport No Comments Email Email

Sustained passenger growth, expanded after-dark services, infrastructure upgrades and improved returns from commercial activities helped drive a strong year for Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC), resulting in record revenue, profit and dividends, said QAC Board Chairman John Gilks.

“The move to after-dark flights has created many local employment opportunities, both at the airport and for those who supply support services. Our airport community alone doubled within the 12-month period, growing from 350 people to 700 as most of the 60 businesses moved to double-shift operations,” he said.

Revenue increased 24% to $39 million and Reported Profit increased from $7.8 million to $12.1 million, up 56% on the prior year.  Underlying Profit for the year was $12.3 million, up $1.8 million or 17% on the prior year. In line with the company’s 2016 Annual Report, underlying profit was arrived at by adjusting for the costs of appealing an earlier adverse taxation ruling related to depreciation claimed for the Runway End Safety Area.

Operating Earnings before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) increased by $4.7 million, or 22%, to $26.2 million.  Operating expenses were up by $2.8 million to $12.8 million as the airport moved to double-shift operations for after-dark flights and developed a draft 30-year Master Plan.

QAC continued to invest in infrastructure and technology to improve the passenger experience, safety and efficiency of the airport, and provide additional business opportunities within the district.  During the year, $23 million was invested in improved car parking and roading, runway grooving for improved wet and cold weather performance and the acquisition of 150 hectares of land adjacent to Wanaka Airport.

Board Chairman John Gilks said the airport’s activities had also delivered significant benefits to the regional economy, including a 14% lift in the dividend returned to its shareholders.

Board Chairman John Gilks

The airport’s two shareholders, Queenstown Lakes District Council (75.01%) and Auckland Airport (24.99%) received a total of $7.2 million in dividends.  For Queenstown Lakes District ratepayers, this equated to a record $5.4 million annual dividend, or $224 per rateable property, returned to the community.

The Southern Lakes region’s attractiveness as a destination and a place to live was reflected in strong passenger growth.

  • The airport welcomed a record 1,892,443 passengers in the 12-month period – an increase of 241,334 or 14.6 % on the previous year.
  • Domestic passenger numbers grew 15.6% to 1,360,158. A significant portion of these passengers were international visitors travelling on domestic flights in and out of the region.
  • International passenger numbers rose 12.1% to 532,285 as a result of additional airline capacity and frequency on direct trans-Tasman services.
  • Queenstown Airport’s commercial general aviation operators also performed strongly, with fixed wing and helicopter landings up 12.5% on the previous year.  Private jet landings increased by 14.1%.

By the end of the financial year, a milestone was reached with all four airlines operating at Queenstown Airport – Air New Zealand, Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Australia – certified to operate after-dark services.

Mr Gilks said that the airport was grateful for the airlines’ ongoing support to the airport and the region.

“We are very fortunate to be well supported by our four airlines which continue to step up with flexibility and choice for travellers and residents.  Introducing after-dark flights in the winter months has been a huge commitment for all parties involved and we congratulate Qantas and Virgin Australia in particular for their efforts in becoming after-dark certified this year.”

Work continued on several long term projects during the year, including the airport’s noise management programme and working with QLDC on a long-term lease for Wanaka Airport.

Mr Gilks said a key focus had been on planning for long term growth and infrastructure investments.

“QAC has significantly progressed the development of its 30-year Queenstown Airport Master Plan so we can best serve our customers, local communities, region and the country for decades to come.  In the next couple of months, we will be sharing our thinking to date with the local communities and seeking their views on the options we have identified for the long-term development of the airport.”

To view Queenstown Airport Corporation’s 2016-2017 Annual Report and the Annual Profile, please visit www.queenstownairport.co.nz/corporate/planning-and-performance.

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