Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) says there are signs demand for travel to the region may be softening after reporting a double-digit improvement in net profit for the full 2018/19 financial year.
The company, which manages both Queenstown and Wanaka airports on New Zealand’s South Island, said net profit for the 12 months to June 30 2019 rose 11 per cent to NZ$16.6 million, from NZ$14.9 million in the prior corresponding period.
Revenue improved nine per cent to NZ$49.6 million, QAC announced on Wednesday.
The company said it was a “solid result” amid increases in both aeronautical and commercial revenue, as well as effective cost controls.
Queenstown Airport handled 2.3 million passengers in 2018/19, up eight per cent from the prior year. It is New Zealand’s fourth busiest airport behind Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington.
The number of international passengers – Queenstown Airport’s only international services are to Australia – rose 10 per cent to 655,950, while domestic passengers rose eight per cent to 1.7 million.
However, QAC said there were signs demand for scheduled services to and from the region showed signs of moderating.
“This is something we are continuing to monitor to ensure our planning and forecasting is adjusted if needed,” the QAC chairman Prue Flacks and chief executive Colin Keel said in the annual report.
QAC said combined fixed wing and helicopter movements from commercial general aviation operators at Queenstown fell six per cent in 2018/19, compared with the prior year, while private jet movements “decreased slightly to 486 annual movements”.
On a more positive note, QAC said general aviation fixed wing and helicopter movements at Wanaka Airport rose 12 per cent to 50,614.
The total number of general aviation movements across both airports was over 90,000.
“Queenstown and Wanaka airports continued to see strong demand for general aviation services and activities, with flightseeing, engineering and associated businesses performing largely on-par with last year,” the QAC annual report said.
In terms of capital works, QAC said it delivered several projects during 2018/19 to “improve resilience and increase capacity within the current terminal footprint” at Queenstown Airport, which is located in a valley and has one of the most stunning approaches in the world.
This included upgrading and expanding the border agency terminal and dog rest areas and creating a swing lounge to increase the capacity in the domestic departure lounge area.
QAC also completed an overlay of the apron, added new customer wayfinding signage, among other projects.
Looking ahead, QAC said it was planning to bring in self-service check-in kiosks in 2019/20, as well as begin work to expand baggage areas and increase the pick-up and drop-off areas.
“The health, safety and security of residents, visitors and staff at both airports remain a priority and we have continued to make operational enhancements in a number of areas,” Flacks said.
“Continued investment in technology and other innovative solutions to improve the customer experience was also a highlight.”
QAC is owned by two shareholders – the Queenstown Lakes District Council holds 75.01 per cent of the company and Auckland International Airport Limited holds the remaining 24.99 per cent.