Hamilton Airport outperforms forecast

Hamilton Airport has outperformed its financial and operational projections  for the year, posting a big jump in net profit after tax and carving $400,000 off its debt.

The local authorities-owned airport announced a net profit after tax of $378,000, a 240 per cent or $267,000 increase on the 2011 result.

Earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) was up 25 per cent.

Board chairman John Birch attributed the result, which does not reflect the  loss this month of trans-Tasman carrier Virgin Australia from Waikato skies, to ''good planning and delivering on major projects''.

Virgin's exit from the Hamilton-Brisbane service, which the airline blamed on lack of patronage, was post-balance date.

Birch said because aeronautical revenues fluctuate, the airport has had a long-term strategy to diversify its income streams, with developments such as business park Titanium Park and long-term leases.

Income from these activities in the 2012-2013 financial year would lessen the impact of the lost international flights, he said.

Overall aircraft movements increased by 16 per cent from 102,000 to 119,000, due to growth in airline pilot trainee numbers at CTC Aviation Training NZ.

Chief executive Chris Doak, leaving the job after eight years in January, said the improved net profit after tax result was mainly due to increases in property lease revenue, cost containment and lower interest costs from reduced debt.

Despite the Rugby World Cup negatively affecting Hamilton's domestic flight numbers during September, October and November last year, total passenger numbers were just 2 per cent down on the previous year at 354,000.

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 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 & Waikato Tourism completed its first year, with the airport reducing staffing costs by moving marketing into the tourism agency in a shared services arrangement and combining functions within its finance and commercial divisions.