The number of people using Rotorua Airport continues to grow – jumping 7.7 per cent in the past financial year.
The strong passenger numbers were revealed at the airport's annual general meeting today, highlighting a successful year for the airport.
For the 12-month period ending June 30, 2019 the airport catered for 265,443 passengers - the highest in 10 years.
Growth across all three destinations – Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch - led to the increase, with Wellington travel the biggest growth contributor with a 9.24 per cent increase in passenger numbers.
Christchurch was up 9.2 per cent and Auckland numbers increased 4.57 per cent.
Rotorua Airport chief executive Mark Gibb said the growth in airport use demonstrated the importance of the terminal upgrade, which was now well under way.
"It is about ensuring Rotorua Airport remains a safe and efficient operation that can meet the demands of the future, such as the growth in passenger numbers, as well as ensuring it keeps up with security and building compliance requirements," Gibb said.
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The first stage – the new arrivals facility – is now open while the second stage, which will include a new departures area and a glass walkway between the two areas, is under construction and will be completed early next year.
While it was the growth in passenger numbers and a need to earthquake-strengthen the building which prompted the redevelopment, Gibb said it was also about creating a gateway that better reflected Rotorua.
"Our vision is to be a uniquely Rotorua hub our community can be proud of and this redevelopment will help us achieve that."
He said the passenger increases showed a sustained period of growth with 30,000 more passengers a year than two years ago.
The airport also recorded a net surplus of $282,911 for the financial year while also achieving a debt reduction of 22 per cent since February 2016.
Rotorua Airport Limited chairman Peter Stubbs said the airport had performed strongly across all its targets and the value of Rotorua Lakes Council's interest in Rotorua Airport was now $50 million - $20 million higher than two years ago.
"Another significant achievement has been the completion of the masterplan for the airport, which looks at the way the airport land can be used in the future and provides the airport with a vision and growth road map."
Stubbs said there was a strong focus on building non-aviation revenue and making the best use of existing assets, including unlocking the potential of the currently unused airport land.
Other key highlights of the year included the successful Board Observer Programme, which allowed selected participants the opportunity to spend a year as an observer learning about the board and operations of a council-controlled organisation, as well as significant work to get approval for the airport's proposed Safety Management System, which included holding a full scale, multi-agency emergency response exercise.
In 2009 Air New Zealand announced that it would begin flights between Rotorua and Sydney, the service partially funded by the Rotorua District Council.
The flights across the Tasman initially operated twice weekly but dropped to one flight a week during off-peak months before services were suspended entirely in 2015.