Revenue has crash-landed at Dunedin Airport amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and the airport's executive leadership says there will not be a return to normal in the foreseeable future.

Last year, the Dunedin City Council-controlled organisation, jointly owned by Dunedin City Holdings and the Crown, brought in $17.6 million in revenue and dealt with 1,077,475 passengers — nearly 21,000 people a week.

During the first four weeks of Level 4 lockdown, it handled fewer than 150 passengers a week.

The number of passengers passing through the airport in a "post Covid-19 environment" could be half of what had previously been forecast, airport chief executive Richard Roberts said yesterday.


His statement provided yesterday did not directly answer whether the company would be able to hold on to staff. The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

It is unclear from the company's 2019 annual report how many people work at the airport, but last year the company spent $2.9m on wages.

"Other than the revenue from our dairy farms and rental housing, our revenue has basically been reduced to zero," Roberts said.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Virgin Australia, now in administration, offered a regular service between Dunedin and Brisbane, as Dunedin Airport's only international link.

While Roberts said only about 4 per cent of the airport's passengers were international travellers, "they contributed significantly more than 4 per cent to our business".

"We must also consider that as many as 20 per cent of the people flying domestically in New Zealand were visitors," he said.

A Ministry of Transport spokesman has said the demand for domestic travel under alert levels 4 and 3 had been "extremely limited", and flights to particular destinations would be restored once sufficient demand was established.


At level 3, Dunedin Airport has returned to a seven-day-a-week schedule, but only one round trip on a 68-seat aircraft is scheduled, and Air NZ can only sell half the seats due to physical distancing requirements.

"We are certain things will not be back to normal by any stretch of the imagination after lockdown," Roberts said.

"We will most likely remain in the current situation, with many of us continuing to remain away from work or work from home for the foreseeable future.

"In the least, all of our team will remain at 80 per cent of our pre-lockdown pay until the end of the 12-week period.

"The executive and senior leadership team will be working on what exactly post-lockdown will look like over the next week or so and we will advise all our team as to how we believe this will look."

The dividend the company pays is 60 per cent of its operating surplus after tax, and was projected to be similar this year to last — about $1.4m.


It was set to be more than $2m next year before the global pandemic hit.

— Additional reporting Debbie Porteous