15.9 million passengers passed through Auckland Airport in the year that ended June 30, 2023 (FY23), an increase of 184% over the previous year. But compared to the 21 million passengers that went through the terminals in the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2019, it fell short by more than five million, or 25%.
International seat capacity had returned to 90% of pre-COVID levels by June, while domestic seat capacity had recovered to 89%. Meanwhile, the excess belly hold capacity had increased international freight capacity to 95% of pre-pandemic levels. That is a cause for optimism about the future, and Auckland Airport (AKL) has enough of it.
There will be a busy holiday season.
CEO Carrie Hurihanganui stated at this week’s Annual Meeting that the airport anticipates a 29% increase in flight capacity over the holiday season of November 2023 to March 2024 when compared to the pre-pandemic timeframe.
Although she draws attention to the increasing influence of increased capacity from China, the quick expansion is the result of months of consistent work, especially in the restart and introduction of new international routes.
During the peak of the pandemic, just 12 airlines were operating flights to 21 destinations; however, by FY 23, that number had increased to 25 airlines operating flights to 40 destinations from Auckland Airport. The greatest successes have been on North American lines, where domestic carrier Air New Zealand is currently reaching seven cities, including New York, which is its primary goal.
Air New Zealand’s nonstop flights from Auckland to Chicago and Houston, as well as its other routes to Vancouver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Honolulu, are less well-known but no less significant. The airport also gained when Hawaiian Airlines, Air Canada, United Airlines, American Airlines, and Qantas resumed service, and Qantas joined the Big Apple party with nonstop flights to New York.
Although it takes some effort to get the China flywheel moving, Auckland Airport currently offers 27 weekly flights to four destinations in mainland China, operated by five carriers. Overall capacity between Auckland and China had returned to 78% of 2019 levels by the end of June, but since then, it has increased significantly, reaching 93% by the end of September and 103% of pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year.