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Auckland Airport's traffic stoked by Australian visitors, strength of domestic routes

Monday 26th April 2010

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Auckland International Airport, New Zealand’s busiest gateway, said passenger volumes and aircraft movements climbed last month, led by visitors from Australia and an increase in domestic traffic.

Excluding transits, international passenger volumes grew 3.9% in March, the airport said in a statement today. The gain reflected a 15.8% increase in arrivals from Australia, which reflected lower fares, increased rivalry between airlines and the appeal of short-haul holidays, it said. Domestic passenger volumes grew 5.8%, which the airport put down to Jetstar replacing Qantas Airways in July last year.

The popularity of New Zealand as a destination for Australians, whose economy escaped recession last year, helped make up for a decline in volumes from other major sources of tourists. Arrivals from the U.K. dropped 2.4%, those from the US fell 0.6% and China’s visitors declined 16.7%. International aircraft movements rose 3.9% while domestic gained 1.5%.

Shares of Auckland Airport rose 2 cents to $2.01 on Friday and have advanced 21% in the past 12 months. The stock is rated ‘outperform’ based on the consensus of nine recommendations compiled by Reuters. The shares are trading 28.9 times earnings. Profit jumped in the first half to $54 million from a year-earlier $9.8 million, on increased passenger volumes and the year-earlier write-down of assets.

The airport tapped investors for $126 million in February to part-fund its purchase of almost 25% of North Queensland Airports, operator of the airports at Cairns and Mackay, for about $167 million.

In March, the number of people who gave their reason for visiting New Zealand as business or conference rose 11% to 45,816, while holidayers rose 3.5% to 72,748, and those on medical or educational visits jumped about 17% to 5,860. Those visiting friends or relatives rose 5.1% to 53,144.

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