Passenger growth lifts Auckland Airport profit

02:38, Aug 30 2012

Auckland Airport has approved a staff share scheme - the fourth time the company has provided interest-free loans for workers to buy shares in the company since 1999.

The company said the share purchase plan is intended to encourage and incentivise employees by giving them a stake in its performance and success.

The scheme involves Auckland Airport making interest-free loans to employees of up to $2340 for each employee to buy shares, held on their behalf by trustees of the plan.   

Employees are able to repay the loans by instalment over three years through deductions from their pay packets.  

The company today also announced a 41.2 per cent lift in annual profit of $142.28 million on last year, driven mainly by growth in passenger numbers across its various airport interests.

The biggest increase in international passengers, 21.2 per cent, came at Queenstown Airport in which Auckland Airport has a 24.95 per cent stake.

Domestic passengers at Queenstown also rose 11.6 per cent on last year while in Auckland passenger movements, including transits, rose 5.1 per cent for international and 3.3 per cent for domestic.

Across the Tasman, there was also growth in both Cairns and Mackay Airports. Auckland has a 24.99 per cent stake in North Queensland Airports which owns Cairns and Mackay.

International passenger movements rose 3.5 per cent at Cairns while domestic rose 3.2 per cent and at Mackay Airport passengers movements were up 7.7 per cent on the back of growth in the resource sector.

Auckland Airport also saw strong growth in other revenue sectors. The biggest contributor to the company's revenues is retail income which contributed $120.8m, up 8.7 per cent.

Passenger service charges brought in $83m, up 5.5 per cent, while airfield income rose 6.6 per cent to $77.2m.

Rental income jumped 10.1 per cent to $54.9m while car park income rose 9.5 per cent to $36.6m.

Company's chairperson Joan Withers said the company was pleased to have built on last year's breakout profit despite difficult global economic conditions and weaknesses in traditional long-haul markets such as Europe.

While record numbers were travelling to and from New Zealand, she said, a closer look at data showed a fundamental shift in where they're coming from.

''Strong growth is occurring out of Australia, China and many other South East Asian nations, with declining travel numbers out of the United Kingdom, Europe, Japan and the United States. This reinforces the need to adapt,'' said Withers.

The company wants to boost productivity and profit out of Auckland by investing in what it called smart airport infrastructure and in air-service capacity development.

It has also been working with other industry players to attract more tourists and trade to the country.

Acting chief executive Simon Robertson said an increase in domestic charges largely reflected the need to expand capacity of the domestic terminal in the next 18 months so it can cope with larger aircraft.

''We are continuing consultation with airlines on development of a new terminal to replace the existing domestic terminal,'' he said.

The board is optimistic for the 2013 financial year and expects net profit to be between $143m to $150m.

Total dividends paid for the year will raise to 10.5 cents a share from 8.7cps. The final dividend is 6.1cps.