Nelson Airport is New Zealand's best

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 10:00 10/10/2012
nelson airport
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ

FLYING HIGH: Nelson Airport staff, Kaye McNabb, left, Ruth Draaijer, Peter Van den Bogaardt, Karen Hieatt, James Middlewick, Jas Misiepo, and Wayne Klenner, celebrate winning the Airport of the Year title for the third time.

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Nelson Airport has landed the title as the country's best for the third time.

Chief executive Kaye McNabb said she was "absolutely gobsmacked" when the airport was announced as the Airport Of the Year at the New Zealand Airports Awards dinner last Friday.

Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dot Kettle said it was a well deserved win.

"An airport at the top of its game is vital for our exporters and our tourists," Ms Kettle said.

The Interspace Airport Cup will now be polished and bolted back on its plinth in the airport terminal.

Nelson Airport is the only airport to have won the cup three times, in 2008, 2010 and now 2012, Mrs McNabb said.

Nelson Airport is New Zealand's fourth busiest airport with more than 800,000 passengers a year coming and going through the terminal, which puts it in the major airport category.

Mrs McNabb said the win was the result of another "huge team effort", and the co-operation and attitude of all of the other businesses operating in the terminal and on airport grounds, from security and customer service officers to check-in staff, cafe staff, and taxi drivers plus engineers, ground handlers, and pilots.

The judges looked at the airport's considerable contribution to aviation business growth through the Top of the South aviation strategy and its input into regional and national economic growth.

They also considered how it worked with the NZ Airports Association, Ministry for the Environment and local councils on environmental effects and risks for the airport.

Mrs McNabb said Nelson Airport's relationship with its community, and its support for the Heart of Biking Cycleway trail also impressed the judges.

While the airport company was "comparatively small", airport company chairman Paul Steere said recently it outclassed Australasian airports in an independent survey, in returns on assets and returns on total shareholder equity.

The airport company's better-than-expected financial performance last year of an after-tax profit of just over $1.2 million, resulted in a $200,000 dividend paid to each of its shareholders, the Nelson and Tasman councils.

The major category is for airports hosting more than 500,000 passengers per year. The smaller airports award was taken out this year by Ohakea Airport.

Air New Zealand Link operates Air Nelson from Nelson Airport and fleet maintenance is done in Nelson at its engineering division.

HNZ Global has its South-East Asian headquarters at Nelson Airport

Three pilot training schools operate from Nelson Airport.

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