Christchurch International Airport, which is 75 per cent owned by the city council, posted a 13 per cent lift in profit after a record number of passengers in the first half of the financial year.

Net profit rose to $18.3 million in the six months ended December 31, from $16.2m a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Operating revenue rose 6.5 per cent to $86.4m, with aeronautical revenue up 6.4 per cent to $42.5m and non-aeronautical revenue rising 6.6 per cent to $43.9m.

The airport will pay an interim dividend of $16.4m, up 13 per cent on the year earlier. Total passenger movements rose 4.4 per cent to 3.24m, a first-half record.

Chief executive Malcolm Johns said the first six months have shown strong growth, with domestic passenger numbers up 3.2 per cent but international passenger numbers rising about 8 per cent.


"New or increased services from China Southern Airlines, Emirates A380, Qantas and Fiji Airways have increased our connections to key regional airport hubs and driven strong international visitor growth into the South Island and New Zealand," he said.

Johns said there had been a 53 per cent growth in Hong Kong residents visiting, a 37 per cent increase from Chinese nationals, 32 per cent more Indonesians and 25 per cent more visitors from Taiwan in the first half. The airport is also seeing more Chinese visitors within the "free independent traveller" category, who Johns said were "younger, spending more and exploring more on our China services."

The company expects to see 6.7 million passengers in its full financial year, up from 6.3 million in 2016 and 5.9 million in 2015.

Christchurch Airport is among assets owned by Christchurch City Council's investment holding company, while the Minister of Finance and the Minister for State-Owned Enterprises each hold one-eighth, meaning the Crown will receive about $4.1m in dividends.