Firms at airport produce over $3b

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 08:11 07/08/2012

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Businesses at Christchurch International Airport generate more than $3 billion of sales a year, a new analysis reveals.

Research group Business and Economic Research Ltd (Berl) has produced a detailed assessment of the airport operations and their central role in the Canterbury economy for its owners, Christchurch City Council and the Crown, at a time when government-owned assets are being eyed for potential sale.

Some argue that assets owned by the city should be sold to help with the huge amount of infrastructure in the earthquake rebuild period. The big three blueprint projects, a covered stadium, convention centre and metro sports centre, could cost a combined $1.2 billion.

The airport is 75 per cent owned by the council's infrastructure arm, Christchurch City Holdings, and 25 per cent by the Government.

The Government and others have put pressure on Christchurch City Council to sell assets to help pay for the rebuild, though the airport management has not publicly taken a stance on whether the airport hub should be considered for sale.

Since 2007 the airport has delivered an average dividend of about $10 million each year, but that return to the owners including the council would be cut or removed with a partial or full sale.

More 17,000 people work on the airport campus including 6291 in tourism-related roles and a further 10,525 in other operations, Berl says.

Berl measured output or sales based from the airport at more than $3b.

It said gross domestic product which is value or margin added through economic activity at the airport was $1.4b. GDP is derived from wages, salaries, interest, rent and profit, plus exports less imports.

Christchurch International is one of two airports in New Zealand capable of accommodating the largest commercial airlines, with Berl and the airport itself highlighting its value.

The report by Kel Sanderson, Hugh Dixon and Fiona Stokes of Berl said the wider economic output of the businesses at the airport, including multiplier effects from employment and spending, was $3.05b.

One of the biggest impacts of the airport was on the tourism sector.

Berl said direct output from tourist expenditure attributable to the airport was $531m. That comprised 454,674 foreign tourists (spending $346m) and 790,140 domestic tourists (spending $185m) who used the airport.

When the output from tourist expenditure attributable to the airport was widened to include multiplier effects the total grew to $1.067b in 2011.

Direct output or sales from the airport's terminal (which includes the movement of passengers and freight and aircraft maintenance) totalled $964m.

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The wider output from the airport's terminal operations was $1.91b.

"Activity around the passenger terminal is generally related to passenger needs and includes airline staff, cleaning services, retail, security, customs, rental car service providers and airport management," it said.

Christchurch airport generated 7.1 per cent of the estimated $24.9b of gross domestic product for the Canterbury region in 2010, Berl says. Regional GDP rose to $25.2b in 2011, with the airport accounting for 5.6 per cent of that figure.

- The Press

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