Auckland International Airport Lifts Profit, Dividend Sharply

By David Winning Features Dow Jones Newswires

Auckland International Airport Ltd. (AIA.NZ) said its annual net profit rose by 27%, driven by an influx of visitors from countries like China and additional flights into New Zealand's biggest city from the U.S.

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Auckland International Airport reported a net profit of 332.9 million New Zealand dollars (US$242.3 million) in the 12 months through June, compared to NZ$262.4 million a year ago. Directors of the company declared a final dividend of 10.5 New Zealand cents a share, up 17% from 9 NZ cents a year earlier.

The company said its underlying net profit before one-off items rose by 17% to NZ$247.8 million in the 2017 fiscal year, ahead of guidance for between NZ$235 million and NZ$243 million.

"We expect underlying profit after tax (excluding any fair value changes and other one-off items) for the 2018 financial year to be between $248 million and $257 million," said Chairman Henry van der Heyden. "This guidance would deliver underlying earnings per share growth of up to 3.7% compared with the 2017 financial year and reflects the impact of our new aeronautical prices commencing in the 2018 financial year."

New charges for airlines that use facilities at Auckland International Airport took effect at the start of July and will run through mid-2022. Average annual international passenger charges are due to fall by 1.7% in real terms over the next five years, while domestic passenger charges will rise by 0.8%.

Tourism is rivalling dairy as New Zealand's biggest engine of export revenues, prompting Auckland International Airport to step up investment to ease congestion in security halls and at departure gates. Around 19 million passengers passed through Auckland airport in the 12 months through June, up 10% on a year earlier, with international and domestic travel each increasing by 11% and 8.9%, respectively. Major sports events, such as the British and Irish Lions rugby tour, also boosted in-bound travel.

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Auckland International Airport plans to spend NZ$1.8 billion over five years on upgrades including a new domestic terminal, three more gates for aircraft such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, an improved international check-in area, and an expansion of the border processing area and public arrivals space.

The company also plans to introduce a runway charge of NZ$1.19 per passenger, excluding sales tax, from the start of the 2021 financial year once construction of a second runway is confirmed.

-Write to David Winning at david.winning@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 22, 2017 17:07 ET (21:07 GMT)