Hamilton Airport is confident it can repeat its recent strong financial performance, despite the absence of an international carrier.
The local authorities-owned airport yesterday announced a net profit after tax of $378,000, a 240 per cent or $267,000 increase on the previous result.
Earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) is up 25 per cent.
The results, however, do not reflect the loss of trans-Tasman carrier Virgin Australia which ended its Hamilton to Brisbane service in October, citing a lack of patronage.
Hamilton Airport chairman John Birch said attracting a new carrier was a big challenge but the immediate outlook was positive.
"There is a material impact in losing the international services but I think we're currently forecasting a surplus next year and we are working hard to achieve the budgeted bottom line that we already established prior to Virgin pulling out" Mr Birch said.
He said there was sufficient demand in the Waikato for the right international product and talks were continuing between the airport and several carriers.
"Do I see something crystallising in the very short term? I think that would be a tall order but actually it's a matter of positioning the business so as the economy improves and the availability of aircraft improves we become a logical route for someone."
A major project completed during the financial year was the approval of runway extension consents, which give the airport the option of extending its main runway from 2200 metres to 3000m.
There are no immediate plans to lengthen the runway but the designations will remain in place for 15 years, allowing extensions when a business case can be made.
Hamilton Airport chief executive Chris Doak, who will leave his position in January, said the improved profit was largely because of increases in property lease revenue, cost containment and lower interest costs from reduced debt.
Hamilton City councillor and founder of Hamilton-based budget airline Kiwi Air, Ewan Wilson, was happy to see the airport record "some level of profitability" but said its financial performance had to be put in context.
"Although I'm pleased to see the airport is cashflow positive, I think we have to keep in mind that unlike normal businesses who are expected to provide a legitimate return to their investors, the airport hasn't provided that as such."
Mr Wilson said it was crucial the airport focus on attracting an international carrier.
"It's vital for the sake of staying internationally designated.
"If we lose international services, eventually border patrol capabilities also cease.
"The airport company also derives a significant portion of its revenue, not only from the landing fees that are derived from international flights, but much more importantly they derive revenue from the profit share with duty free sales."
Mr Wilson said extending the airport's main runway was overdue but he opposed ratepayers funding the initiative.
He said the airport could tap in to new capital by changing the airport's ownership structure.
"Maybe the five councils don't need to own 100 per cent of the airport and perhaps we could attract an equity partner whose main focus is to come in and inject their capital to lengthen the runway."
Extending the runway would allow existing aircraft to carry more payload as well as attract larger aircraft to the airport such as the Airbus A330 or the Boeing 767.
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