Still flocks of overseas visitors

A record 5.1% increase in passengers in 2013 over the previous year confirms Queenstown Airport's status as the fastest-growing airport in Australasia.

However, the drop in domestic visitors is a concern, as the slide is predicted to continue this year.

New figures for the year ending December 2013 reveal 1,215,526 domestic and international passengers passed through the airport terminal, compared with 1,156,250 in 2012.

The Queenstown Airport Corporation said the positive result was due to ''stellar'' transtasman passenger growth, which jumped 30.9% from 215,300 to 281,761 in a year.

Corporation chief executive Scott Paterson said yesterday all three transtasman routes - Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne - showed double-digit percentage growth thanks to extra capacity and frequency added by Air New Zealand, Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Australia.

The Brisbane route was a standout performer, achieving 102% growth.

The airport's private jet business also grew, with charter flights increasing 12% in 2013 to 175 landings.

''International growth, particularly in the second half [of 2013], just continues to delight us,'' Mr Paterson said.

''There's a lot more capacity on those routes and loadings are strong. I think we'll see continued strong growth and we're looking at what extra terminal capacity is required for international passengers.''

However, the international rise has not economically offset a decline in domestic passengers through the terminal over the past six months.

The downward domestic trend is likely to continue this year, despite the competitive Auckland-Queenstown route being the strongest performer in 2013, with passenger numbers growing 12% year-on-year.

Jetstar withdrawing its services from Wellington and Christchurch and realigning its schedules to increase capacity on transtasman routes was the prime cause for the domestic slump.

''Jetstar pulling out of these two markets has had an impact on our business and the number of people coming to Queenstown,'' Mr Paterson said.

''Jetstar's decision to withdraw was accepted and understood, but the message for Queenstown is not to take our airlines for granted.''


Plane talking

• The total number of domestic and international passengers through Queenstown Airport in December 2013 was 110,653, 0.06% or 675 passengers down on December 2012.

• International passenger growth slowed, but remained buoyant - up 7.6% or 1696 passengers compared with December 2012.

• Domestic passenger numbers were down 2.7%, or 2371 passengers, compared with December 2012.



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