Queenstown Airport topples international record


Queenstown Airport has set a new record for international arrivals in one day.

But it’s only expected to stand for a matter of days.

Yesterday, 1540 passengers on 10 transtasman flights were ushered through Queenstown Airport’s $17 million international terminal, which opened last week.

That eclipsed last year’s one-day record of 1362, on 10 international flights, set in early July.

Airport chief executive Scott Paterson says: “I expect that record will be smashed on Saturday.”

Eleven transtasman flights are scheduled to arrive on Saturday, probably a result of the Australian school holidays.

Paterson says perhaps another 150 people might arrive on Saturday but he would be surprised if the one-day figure topped 1700.

“What we’re seeing is the international flights crossing the Tasman at very high load factors, which is great for this region and wonderful for our airline customers.”

The new terminal coped well with yesterday’s record arrivals, he says, adding: “There wouldn’t have been a lot of headroom.

“We’ve built it for a peak. This year we will be right at that peak.”

International passenger numbers to Queenstown surged in May, up 46 per cent to 18,156 passenger movements – while domestic passenger volumes lifted 10.2 per cent, to 65,300 movements.

The increase in international numbers comes amid a pitched battle for domestic passengers.

Earlier this month, Qantas-owned Jetstar announced it was at least doubling its domestic routes.

Last week, Kiwi Regional Air confirmed it would provide a daily Dunedin-Queenstown service.

Those developments come after Air New Zealand’s announcement in April it expected to fly another 140,000 passengers to Queenstown, most of them on larger aircraft, from Auckland.

The airport company is 75.1 per cent owned by the Queenstown Lakes District Council and 24.9 per cent owned by Auckland Airport.

Queenstown Airport’s updated statement of intent will be considered at today’s full council meeting.

The document notes Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) is consulting airlines on aeronautical pricing and forecasts a 27 per cent lift in after-tax net profit from $8.3 million in the next financial year to $10.5 million.

Last year’s after-tax net profit was $6.6 million. Comments added to the statement of intent said: “Land constraints and competing land uses will inevitably result in QAC having to make some tough decisions and trade-offs in order to accommodate demand and provide a safe and streamlined customer experience.”

Otago Daily Times