Airport passengers skyrocketing

Oil and gas industry credited

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 08:21 17/02/2014

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A booming oil and gas industry is being credited with passenger numbers flying high at New Plymouth Airport.

The latest figures show last year was a record year for the airport, with the number of people flying in and out of New Plymouth increasing from 310,943 in 2012, to 332,178 in 2013.

Airport manager Kevin Hill believed the increase was largely from business passengers.

"Generally the passenger mix is fifty-fifty business and leisure, but January's 20 per cent rise was because of crew changes on the deep- sea drilling programme," he said.

"I think we're seeing the result of Taranaki's buoyant economy, with the petrochemical industry driving the increase to a certain extent."

The increase was not only confined to 2013 though.

This year is already off to a record start with an extra 4000 passengers through the airport in January.

This coming year could be another record-breaker as Air New Zealand moves to increase the capacity of its flights.

On Wednesday the number of passenger flights each day will change from 26 to 28, including having the larger ATR-72 planes coming to the airport six times a day instead of the current two.

That will increase the number of available sets - up from 1076 seats to 1616.

Mr Hill said it was possible more than 400,000 passengers could come through the New Plymouth Airport this year.

The airport's terminal building opened in 1964 and was designed for just 60,000 passengers per year.

The New Plymouth District Council is designing an extension of the terminal, with construction planned for 2015.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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