9 Jun 2020

Wellington Airport expansion plans delayed

4:38 pm on 9 June 2020

A massive drop in passenger numbers has forced Wellington Airport to delay plans for a billion-dollar-plus expansion and upgrade.

Artist impression of Wellington Airport upgrade.

Artist impression of Wellington Airport upgrade. Photo: Supplied

Its 20-year master plan released last year includes a new terminal and other infrastructure with hopes construction would start by the middle of next year.

However, the number of passengers passing through Wellington Airport's doors was down nearly 99 percent in April compared to the same month last year.

It has axed nearly a quarter of its workforce. Of its 134 staff, 31 roles have been cut.

It has also cut costs, slashed salaries and implemented four-day working weeks.

The airport said in a statement while its master plan remained in place, expansion was being pushed further out until demand picked up again.

It said it was too soon to tell when this would happen, but it was predicting a return to normal trading conditions by March 2022.

"The airport purchased the golf course and Miramar South School land last year," the spokesperson said.

"We have a flexible arrangement with the golf course that means the members will be able to use the full course until demand meets a sufficient level that the airport needs to commence development."

The airport said the timeframe for consent application for a proposed runway extension was also expected to be pushed further out.

It said it had cut deals with its lenders and shareholders to put in place funding to ensure smooth operations and overall financial flexibility until traffic and income stabilised.

Its banks gave it access to $70 million more in credit, now up to $170m, and gave breathing space on its loan conditions.

It was also given access to $75m in backing finance from shareholders Infratil and the Wellington City Council.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs