Wellington airport full-year profit rises

Wellington International Airport increased its full year profit, even as the number of passengers using the facility declined.

The company, 66 percent-owned by Infratil and 34 percent by Wellington City Council, today said its profit after tax for the year to March 31 was $7.3 million, up from $7m the year before.

Passenger numbers of 5.12m were 2.6 percent down on a year earlier, but still 12 percent higher than five years ago, the airport said.

Passenger service income rose to $25.7m, or $5.02 per passenger, in the latest year, from $23.6m, or $4.49 per passenger, the year before.

Aeronautical income rose $1.3m to $54.5m due to changes in the passenger mix and a small rise in aeronautical charges. Aircraft movements fell to about 103,000 from about 109,700, with domestic flights down about 4000 to 84,700, and international flights down 78 to 5476.

Revenue rose to $104.6m from $96.1m.

The airport said it spent about $1m during the year for external experts and executive time engaging in the Commerce Commission's review of information disclosures by major airports.

"This multi-year process is intended to standardise and expressly define the information the airports will have to provide about their aeronautical assets and activities," the company said.

"Because this could be a precursor to some form of more heavy handed regulation, Wellington Airport has engaged in the process in a comprehensive way."

Yesterday the commission published its draft decisions and reasons on the input methodologies that will be applied to the information disclosure requirements for airports, describing the move as an important milestone in the setting of a new regulatory regime for airports.

The commission's decisions did not go down well with the Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand.

Its executive director, John Beckett, said the commission had not addressed extremely large asset revaluations booked by airports in recent years.

Airports had used large asset revaluations to inflate their asset bases and therefore significantly increase the charges paid by airlines and the travelling public, Mr Beckett said.

Wellington airport said it expected market conditions to improve slightly next year.

In the medium term it was anticipated growth in traffic would resume but, as had tended to be the case in the past, would probably come in "lumps", the company said.

In the past year, passenger numbers reflected the level of airline competition in particular markets.

International passengers grew 2.6 percent from the previous year's levels, trunk passengers fell 1.6 percent and regional services' passengers were down 7.1 percent, the airport said.

Capacity of regional services had been reduced and that, together with the resulting level of fares, appeared to have been behind the 7 percent fall in passengers.




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