Auckland Airport's underlying profit has climbed 6.2 per cent to $263 million.

Company chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden said it was a year of solid growth in travel and trade markets given the significant growth in the prior two years, with many new carriers and new routes servicing both domestic and international markets out of Auckland.

Net profit nearly doubled to $650.1m, though that was boosted by the sale of the airport's stake in North Queensland Airports, worth A$370m.

The airport expects moderate underlying profit growth in 2019, between $265m and $275m, and expects to spend between $450m and $550m on capital expenditure in the year ahead.

Capex for 2018 was $405.2m.

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The airports total income rose to $683m, with passenger service charges (what is charged on all air tickets) up $5m to $179.1m, and retail income from leases up from $162m to $190.6m.

During the past year, the total number of passengers using Auckland Airport increased by 5.7 per cent to 20.5m, with international passengers reaching 11.2m (up 4.1 per cent on the previous year).

Domestic passenger numbers lifted 7.7 per cent to 9.3m.

It will pay a total dividend of 21.75c.

The airport has been in the midst of a massive rebuild as it catches up to the number of passengers passing through as a result of booming tourism.

It has been under fire from airline lobby groups and users for the standard of its facilities and van der Heyden detailed infrastructure plans and said the company had renewed focus on its New Zealand operations.

"The sale of our stake in North Queensland Airports, the investment in new transport projects and the rollout of new operations and service initiatives have reinforced our focus on business in New Zealand.''

The company was spending $2 billion on an aeronautical infrastructure development programme.

"During 2018, Auckland Airport reached some important milestones in its core aeronautical and infrastructure development programme. We completed the first stage of our new international Pier B extension ahead of the 2017 summer peak travel period and fully completed the project in March 2018.

He said customer satisfaction levels averaged just above four out of five at both terminals based on the independent and globally recognised Airport Service Quality survey.

"The aviation market continues to be dynamic with many changes throughout 2018 as airline alliances and network plans evolved.''

Following the success of its Dubai direct service, in March 2018 Emirates withdrew its A380 services from the Tasman market and added a new service to Dubai via Bali. At the same time existing Tasman carriers including Air New Zealand, Qantas and Virgin announced new services replacing much of the Tasman seat capacity lost by Emirates.