Strong end to the year for Wellington Airport following impacts of Covid-19

14 May 2021

Today Wellington Airport announced its financial results for the 12 months to 31 March 2021.

Wellington Airport Chief Executive, Steve Sanderson said: “Wellington Airport is ending the year on a high with strong domestic travel, the opening of the trans-Tasman bubble, and passenger numbers tracking upwards. Throughout a tough year, we have had continued support from our shareholders and lenders, and our staff and airport stakeholders have met challenges head on. Given the challenges we have faced, we are now looking forward to the year ahead as aviation continues to recover”.

Passenger numbers reached 66% of pre-Covid levels in December/January and ended the year at 48%.

In January, the Gisborne, Hamilton, Invercargill, New Plymouth, Queenstown, Tauranga and Timaru routes all operated with more capacity than they did for the same time last year (pre-Covid).

The recent reopening of trans-Tasman travel on 19 April and the planned return of Cook Island travel on 17 May is also likely to provide a much-needed boost for the year ahead.

“Pre-Covid, trans-Tasman and Fiji travel accounted for around two thirds of our total international passenger numbers, so the return of these routes is a big relief not only to the airport but also to our on-site operators and many Wellington-based businesses who depend on these numbers to make a living”.

Steve Sanderson said the airport’s recovery was in part due to Wellington Airport’s high exposure to the domestic market and in part due to Kiwis’ eagerness to explore New Zealand and reconnect with family. “Pre-Covid, over 5 million of our 6.4 million passengers were domestic passengers. Our strong focus on domestic travel, Kiwis’ desire to get out and explore their own country and spend time with loved ones, the relative lack of domestic Covid-19 restrictions in New Zealand and the return of corporate and international travel has helped us to recover faster than other airports in the region”.

“We’re also extremely grateful for the financial support provided by our shareholders and lenders, including a $75.8 million shareholder support agreement provided by Infratil and Wellington City Council in the form of a commitment for redeemable preference shares. This remains undrawn during the year ended 31 March 2021”.

“This year Wellington Airport completed major runway resurfacing works in half the usual time, due to a longer working window caused by a lack of international flights. The airport also completed upgrades to its international departures area and utilised empty office space to expand conferencing facilities to meet new demands”.

“Over the coming months we will be reinvigorating our existing dining area to provide customers with an enhanced experience when visiting or travelling through Wellington Airport. The first of these initiatives includes a new noodle and poke bar, which opened this week”.

“The airport is buzzing again after the return of trans-Tasman travel last month and we’re all feeling optimistic about the year ahead, in particular helping to facilitate more heartfelt reunions as international travel increases”.