'Pop-up' for airport's winter rush

JOHN EDENS
Last updated 05:00 07/03/2014

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Queenstown Airport bosses expect this winter to be so busy that a temporary structure will be needed to cope with passenger numbers.

Queenstown Lakes district councillors were presented with a six-monthly report on airport business by chairman John Gilks and chief executive Scott Paterson yesterday.

Mr Gilks said current infrastructure meant the busiest eight-week period in July and August needed extra capacity to deal with passengers and luggage. An incremental terminal expansion is scheduled to start this year.

"We're going to put a pop-up in, which will take capacity for eight weeks over the ski season and extra luggage facility. That will get us through this winter and plans are in for a permanent development to take place in the latter months of this year."

After-tax profit was up 38 per cent to $3.8 million in the latter half of last year compared to the last six months of 2012.

Total income was up 14 per cent, international passenger numbers increased by 29 per cent in the first half of last year, owing to an increase in capacity on trans-Tasman routes to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Domestic numbers were down slightly after Jetstar stopped its Queenstown routes to Christchurch and Wellington.

Non-aeronautical services, such as terminal retail stores and vehicle rentals, performed well, up 25 per cent on the first half of 2012.

Mr Gilks said the company expected the momentum to continue and the increase in trans-Tasman flights was exciting. "It opens up the possibility for us of this huge eastern seaboard population to come across here very easily and quite cheaply. There's no reason to suspect the financial year won't be a very good one."

Qantas and Emirates' recent codeshare deal had potential as more international passengers could fly to Sydney or Brisbane then use those hubs to fly direct to Queenstown as their first New Zealand port of call, he said. john.edens@stl.co.nz

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