Queenstown Airport delivers ratepayers bumper $11.66m dividend

by Kim Bowden - Aug 23, 2023

A steady return of passengers after the disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic means the Queenstown Airport will return a record $15.54 million annual dividend to its shareholders.

The Queenstown Airport Corporation today released its annual report for the 12 months to June 30.

The corporation recorded revenue of $59.6 million and net profit after tax of $22.2 million.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has a 75.01 percent stake in the airport, and will receive $11.66 million of the dividend, the equivalent of nearly $390 per ratepayer.

There was a rejig of the security area for departing passengers at Queenstown Airport during the reporting period (Image: Supplied).

The council received $4.49 million of that in February, as an interim payment, while the remaining $7.17 million will be handed over this month.

The leftover of the dividend, a 24.9 percent share, will go to Auckland Airport.

In its last bumper year, 2019, Queenstown Airport paid its shareholders a $8.3 million dividend. In 2021 and 2022, the airport paid them none.

In a statement this morning, QAC board chair Adrienne Young-Cooper says the results reflect the steady return of passengers throughout the year.

“The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the related global and national response was significant. Between March 2020 and April 2022, disruptions and change became the norm. During the reporting period, stability returned and all domestic and international routes are operating again.”

There were 2.37 million passenger movements through the airport this year, and 17,714 scheduled take offs and landings, back on par with 2019 numbers.

General aviation operators based at Queenstown Airport also report a strong recovery over the year.

Mrs Young-Cooper says operating expenditure was comparatively low during the reporting period due to reduced budgets in place at the start of the financial year, in response to the pandemic.

“During the second half of the year, as more certainty returned, operating expenditure increased to normalised levels.”

Chief Executive Glen Sowry says rebuilding workforce capacity was an important focus over the 12 months, with staff numbers increasing by about a third and an increased emphasis on training.

Queenstown Airport chief executive Glen Sowry says this year there was work to rebuild his team after Covid-19 disruptions.

There was also considerable focus on long-term planning, with the release of a 10-year Strategic Plan, followed by a draft Master Plan to deliver on that strategy.

“The airport plays a crucial role in enabling the economic and social wellbeing of our region and will be a lifeline utility in the event of a natural disaster, so long-term planning is essential,” Mr Sowry says.

The community had opportunity to give its views on the draft plan in May, and a report on this is expected to be released soon.

The airport says capital expenditure during the reporting period targeted safety, sustainability and efficiency gains.

There is a new operations centre, that brings airport and airlines staff into a central work space for optimised collaboration, more self-service check-in and bag drop services, and four solar-powered aircraft access ramps that are safer and more accessible.

The airport has also worked to better distribute its flights throughout the day.

Meanwhile, upgrades of the terminal building continue, with revamps of the departures processing area and the international arrivals area completed during the reporting period.

“We are working hard to build a customer-centric culture, to deliver an exceptional customer experience, and to anticipate the needs of future travellers,” Mr Sowry says.

During the year, Queenstown Airport signed up to the globally recognised Airport Service Quality (ASQ) programme.

“This gives us tools to measure our performance and to benchmark our services against those of other airports internationally,” Mr Sowry says.

The airport says it continues to implement its Sustainability Strategy and associated decarbonisation roadmap - it has an ambitious goal of being net-zero by 2040.

“We are pleased to report we have progressed from Toitū carbon reduce certification to Toitū net carbonzero certification this year,” Mr Sowry says.

“We are actively working to reduce our operational emissions and have committed to certified 100 percent renewable electricity supply, and to elimination of non-emergency scope one and two emissions by 2030."

A full sustainability report, incorporating climate-related disclosures, is flagged for release in September.

FY23 snapshot:

  • Total annual dividend to shareholders of $15.5 million
  • Revenue of $59.6 million
  • Net profit after tax (NPAT) of $22.2 million
  • Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of $43.9 million
  • Scheduled aircraft movements totalled 17,714
  • Passenger movements totalled 2,370,488
  • $120,000 contribution to the community through QAC’s partnership programme
  • Toitū net carbonzero certification achieved
  • Queenstown Airport powered by 100 percent certified renewable electricity
  • 65 percent reduction in operational greenhouse gas emissions since 2019

Queenstown Airport’s full annual report is available to download here.

Main image (Supplied): A plane flies over the Frankton Arm of Lake Wakatipu on its approach to Queenstown Airport.

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