'Critical' airport gets 'lot 6'

Queenstown Airport. Photo supplied.
Queenstown Airport. Photo supplied.
It was ''critical'' Queenstown Airport acquired an area of land known as ''lot 6'' and also that it determined the feasibility of evening flights, the airport CEO told a Queenstown Lakes District Council finance and corporate committee meeting yesterday.

In July an Environmental Court hearing was held in Queenstown, which sought to determine whether the airport should gain and develop what is known as ''lot 6'' - a portion of Remarkables Park Ltd.

Queenstown Airport chief executive Scott Paterson said a decision was expected soon.

The airport has posted a positive result for the six months to December 31, which was driven by a 21% increase in passenger numbers, chairman John Gilks said.

Mr Paterson echoed this, telling councillors the airport was still seeing ''real growth'' and that the next terminal expansion - likely to be international - was provisionally set to occur in 2016.

He hoped to discover whether evening flights would be possible in the coming year.

Councillor Russell Mawhinney asked whether more long-term car parking was planned. Mr Paterson said a small park was in the process of being turned into a long-term car park, but space was limited.

The Frankton Golf Course encroaches on land owned by the Queenstown Airport Corporation and Mr Paterson assured councillors it was ''in our best interests to leave it as a golf course''.

The airport also presented its latest draft statement of intent, which said Queenstown Airport ''may be the fastest-growing airport in Australasia; we are certainly the fastest-growing New Zealand airport''.

''Over the last four years there has been double-digit growth in passenger numbers'', but ''this growth comes at a price as airport infrastructure and facilities need to develop in line with passenger growth if we are to meet passenger expectations of a modern airport'', the statement said.

Despite the facilities used by international travellers being those most under pressure during peak periods, they were also ''the most underutilised outside the peaks''.

The statement asserted the council was focused on cost and debt reduction and consequently it was important the airport worked ''to self-fund capital growth in the short term''.

''During the SOI [statement of intent] forecast period - July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2016 - QAC does not plan to seek additional capital.

''The equity injection by AIAL [Auckland International Airport Ltd] in 2010 allowed QAC to reduce debt to today's low levels and QAC has the financial capacity to increase debt to fund the infrastructure developments anticipated through the forecast period,'' the statement said.