By Sophie Boot
Queenstown Airport lifted first-half profit 31 percent as domestic and international passenger numbers grew.
Net profit rose to $6.2 million in the six months ended Dec. 31, from $4.7m a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Revenue rose 19 percent to $15.7m.
"Sustained domestic and international passenger growth, driven by increased capacity and full aircraft, has helped us set new records in the past six months, including hitting the 1.5 million passenger mark for the first time in a rolling 12-month period," chairman John Gilks said.
Total passenger numbers grew 15 percent to 830,000 in the period, with international passengers up 20 percent to 265,000 and domestic passengers increasing 13 percent to 565,000 on the previous corresponding period.
Passenger numbers are set to grow further with the airport's $18 million runway upgrade enabling it to accommodate after-dark flights for the first time from winter 2016.
In January, Air New Zealand announced it would begin evening flights in July, subject to regulatory approval, the first of a number of airlines expected to do so.
The Auckland-based airline will boost flight capacity between Auckland and Queenstown by 15 percent in the 2017 financial year with an additional 100,000 seats.
After-dark flights were first approved at Queenstown Airport in 2014 but the airport first had to commit to the runway upgrade, which is due to be completed in April.
The South Island's second-busiest airport, which is 75.1 percent owned by Queenstown Lakes District Council and 24.9 percent by Auckland International Airport, will pay an interim dividend of $1m.