Wellington International Airport, the Infratil-controlled capital city gateway, posted a 29 per cent gain in full-year profit on growth in aeronautical and passenger services income.

Profit rose to $16.1 million in the 12 months ended March 31, from $12.5m a year earlier. Revenue climbed 5.3 per cent to $119.6m.

The capital city's airport company has almost completed the first stage of a $300m capital investment programme that has seen the domestic terminal expanded and upgraded, work start on a multi-level transport hub and a 4-star hotel and plans for an expanded international terminal. The programme includes plans to extend its runways to accommodate larger long-haul aircraft, although that has become bogged down by objections to the plans from the New Zealand Airline Pilots' Association, and a Supreme Court appeal date is now awaited.

Earnings are "expected to continue to increase, reflecting investment in route development, new and expanded airport facilities and services, growth in passenger numbers and scheduled aeronautical charges," chairman Tim Brown and chief executive Steven Sanderson said in a statement.


Domestic passenger numbers rose 3.6 per cent to 5.08 million in the latest year, while international passengers slipped to 888,427 from 897,316, the company said. Singapore Airlines began a direct service to Canberra last year that provides a new route to Singapore from Wellington. Aeronautical income rose 6.7 per cent to $70.3m and passenger services income rose 3.6 per cent to $37m. property and other income climbed 3.4 per cent to $12.2m.

Operating expenses rose 6.2 per cent to $29m while capital investment climbed almost 40 per cent to $79.3m.

The airport company attributed growth in domestic passenger numbers to break through the "milestone" of 5 million to Air New Zealand's introduction of larger aircraft on some domestic services and increased capacity on others. The biggest growth had come on the route between Wellington and Auckland and there had also been increases on regional routes including Jetstar flights to Dunedin and Nelson and additional Sounds Air Services.

International passenger numbers had levelled off following years of strong growth driven by new airlines, additional capacity and marketing of Wellington as a destination, it said.
Wellington Airport is 66 per cent owned by Infratil and 34 per cent by Wellington City Council.