Christchurch Airport breaks even in first half of financial year under domestic model

Christchurch Airport has managed to break even in the first half of a financial year dominated by shuttered borders from the Covid-19 pandemic.

But, the overall profits are a stark contrast to previous years – and there is no guarantee the city council, which partly owns the airport, will receive a dividend.

The airport confirmed a net profit after tax of just $1.2 million when it announced its results for the first half of the 2021 financial year, July 2020 to December 2020, on Thursday.

The airport had a net profit after tax of $47.8m in the full financial year for 2020, while in 2019 it was $57.4m.

“Though our [profit] has been materially impacted short term with borders closed, it is a credible result to pivot to a domestic only model and get our business to break even,” airport chief executive Malcolm Johns said.

He put the business’ adaptation to the domestic operating model down to lessons learned from the Christchurch earthquakes.

Passenger numbers at the airport between July and December last year dropped 51 per cent.

However, there was a 22 per cent growth in dedicated freight flights from Christchurch.

The airport board’s chairwoman, Catherine Drayton, said the focus in coming months would be retaining staff, as other sectors not as affected by the pandemic were looking to bolster themselves.

Drayton said holding on to talent would mean the airport could emerge “quickly and strongly” once borders re-open.

Christchurch Airport is 75 per cent owned by the Christchurch City Council, the remaining share owned by the Government.

The airport said no decision had been made on paying a dividend this year.

That decision would come once the full year trading is known and there is more information on vaccines and the future of borders.