Queenstown hits air-passengers record

By Jonathan Underhill

Queenstown Airport has started running night flights.
Queenstown Airport has started running night flights.

Queenstown Airport Corp, New Zealand's fourth busiest airport, posted a 7 per cent decline in full-year profit after recognising a charge related to the loss of a tax dispute, while growth in passenger numbers drove up revenue.

Profit fell to $7.8 million in the year ended June 30, from $8.3m a year earlier, and included a non-cash provision of $2.6m related to its adverse tax ruling. Underlying profit rose 27 per cent to $10.5m, matching a 27 per cent gain in revenue to $31.5m.

In July, the airport company lost a dispute with the Inland Revenue Department over whether it should be able to claim depreciation for the cost of constructing its runway end safety area (RESA), with Justice Brendan Brown, in Wellington's High Court, ruling that the RESA didn't qualify as part of the airport runway which would have allowed the airport to claim depreciation.

Operating expenses rose 22 per cent to $10m including costs for runway widening and resurfacing to prepare the airport for evening flights.

"Launching after-dark flights in May was a major milestone for New Zealand aviation and tourism and has ultimately delivered a long-term growth opportunity for the airport and the region's visitor sector", said chairman John Gilks.

Queenstown Airport welcomed 1.65 million passengers in the latest year, up 18 per cent to a record. International passenger numbers rose 19 per cent to 474,000, while domestic passengers grew 18 per cent to 1.17m.

A significant number of these were overseas visitors who transited through Auckland Airport, which owns about 25 per cent of Queenstown Airport, while Queenstown-Lakes District Council owns about 75 per cent. Queenstown Airport declared a record $6.3m dividend, up 21 per cent from the previous year.

Auckland Airport is scheduled to report its full-year results on August 29. It is expected to post a profit of about $211m, up from $176m a year earlier.

Queenstown Airport Corp

Year ended June 30

• 27 per cent rise in revenue to $31.5m

• 27 per cent rise underlying profit to $10.5m

• $7.8m profit, down from $8.3m

- BusinessDesk

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