Passenger numbers may flatten

Domestic passenger growth at Queenstown Airport may flatten for the first time in four years, following Jetstar's suspension of its Wellington-Queenstown service and depending on what Air New Zealand does.

Queenstown Lakes district councillors heard the prediction from Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) chief executive Scott Paterson when he tabled the airport's statement of intent for 2014-16 last week. He warned the suspension would affect the airport's revenue, ''but we're not waving the white flag at the moment''.

Mr Paterson said 2013-14 was ''a year of internal planning, to look at ... the next steps to handle growth and what are the triggers of growth''.

Preparatory work was expected on the next major infrastructure projects - anticipated to be an expansion of the international arrivals facilities, including an extra bag reclaim - and agreeing with airlines on the timing for a parallel taxiway.

A negotiated settlement with neighbour Remarkables Park Ltd was preferred to acquire land for a new aviation precinct, although the statement points out the Minister for the Environment recognised the ''plan of national significance'' in February 2011.

''An outcome is not likely until 2014,'' the statement said.

''This delay blocks QAC's plans to establish world-class corporate jet facilities and frustrates the expansion plans of the region's [general aviation] industry.''

Proving to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) evening flights in winter can occur safely was described by the statement as the starting point for CAA approval for airlines to operate at Queenstown Airport after dark, throughout the consented window of 6am to 10pm.

The statement highlights the gains to Queenstown Airport from its ''strategic alliance'' with Auckland International Airport Ltd (AIAL), which has developed to involve sharing intellectual property and airport expertise.

QAC staff were involved in joint fire training, observed emergency exercises and attended an aviation briefing by a Boeing senior executive in 2012.

AIAL will provide QAC with advice on enhancing safety management, give input on plans to revamp the retail area in the terminal, peer review capital plans, support the introduction of plan change 35 noise mitigation and promote thedistrict over the next 18 months.

''The value of having a sounding board for airport business issues should not be underestimated,'' the statement said.

Total revenue was forecast to be $20.2 million for the year ending June 30, 2014, rising to $21.3 million for the same period in 2015 and $22.5 million in 2016.

Total passenger numbers were forecast to be 1.2 million for the year ending June 30, 2014, climbing to 1.3 million in 2015 and 1.4 million in 2016.

The recommendation to note the statement was moved by Cr Lyal Cox, seconded by Cr Trevor Tattersfield and carried without dissent.