International flights on new chief’s radar

By Patrick O'Sullivan

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International flights from Hawke's Bay Airport are ''very much on the agenda'', says its new chief executive Nick Story.

Mr Story's appointment to the new role was announced yesterday, as Hawke's Bay Airport seeks to grow its businesses.

The airport's business development manager, Wayne Wooton, will remain, enabling him to focus more on the airport's business park development, which has one strong anchor tenant so far.

Airport deputy chairman Jim Scotland said the board wanted to take the airport to the another level. ''We need to lift our game - it's as simple as that,'' he said.

While the airport had regained passenger numbers to the level it had prior to the economic downturn five years ago, its performance had lagged behind other airports.

''So what can we do more as an airport to stimulate that - that's why we've upskilled,'' he said.

When asked when Hawke's Bay could expect another carrier to break Air New Zealand's monopoly, Mr Story said it was too early to make a comment '' but it is always great to have a competitive environment''.

International flights are a definite goal. ''There is work right at the present time on that subject. I am not in a position to say much more right now, but I can tell you that exploration of that area is very much on the agenda.''

Mr Story was previously Westpac's East Coast business manager but Mr Scotland said it was Mr Story's marketing background that won him the job.

He was formerly Farmlands' marketing manager, Fonterra's business development manager for global marketing and strategy, and he held a marketing management role with Shell.

Mr Story said he expected to work closely with other parties to market Hawke's Bay as a region.

He said his new job was exciting''.

''The business is in great shape and there are so many components to it.''

Airport chairman John Palairet acknowledged the contribution of the previous general manager, Nigel Sutton, who was employed part-time.

''The airport has undergone considerable change and development and increase in passenger numbers throughout Nigel's 20-year tenure,'' he said.

'' Nigel's management has been marked by very competent operational and financial management and he could take considerable credit for the strong financial position of the company.''

In March, the airport reported a half year after-tax profit of $597,583 which was ahead of last year's result of $379,939, thanks to increased landing charges and rental from its business park development.

It reflected a 24 per cent increase in revenue on last year, offset by an 8 per cent increase in expenses through increased staffing, insurance and maintenance costs.

Hawke's Bay Airport is owned by Napier City Council (26 per cent), Hastings District Council (24 per cent) and the Crown (50 per cent).

- Hawkes Bay Today

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