New Plymouth passenger numbers drop

Tuesday 5 April 2016, 3:33PM

By Community Taranaki



New Plymouth Airport management have confirmed passenger numbers have dropped by more then 1000 passengers in 2015 compared to 2014 statistics. In 2014, passenger numbers peaked at over 343,000 passengers yearly. In recently published 2015 passenger number statistics New Plymouth Airport saw a drop of more than 1000 passengers to 342,000 passengers. Other regional airports saw increases of around 20,000 passengers in 2015. Despite the loss of passengers, New Plymouth Airport Manager Kevin Hill said growth has been good. In his 10 years in New Plymouth, Hill said New Plymouth Airport had jumped from 16th busiest airport in New Zealand to 9th place last year. "Passenger numbers have grown from 187,000 ten years ago, to around 342,000 last year. "The growth has been quite phenomenal," he said. "And of course that's good for the region, good for the city and we've got to continue to grow it." It's expected passenger numbers will hike in 2016, with the introduction of further flights with Air New Zealand to Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland committing to larger aircraft to drive down prices and gain more passengers. Jetstar commenced their daily service from New Plymouth to Auckland in February which will also boost passenger numbers, and has brought down prices and allowed for more people to fly. The low cost carrier is also adding more services from New Plymouth later in 2016 to keep up with demand, and has three new Q300 aircraft reaching New Zealand by July 2016 to assist with their New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Nelson services. It is highly speculated among local leaders that a third airline will commence an direct flight service to Nelson City departing from New Plymouth later in the year. Hill said they had longer term development goals for the airport including opening up more space where planes could park up, to increase the capacity for flights coming and going. Currently the airport could accommodate four airplanes on the apron, but more space would be able to cater for things like delayed flights due to weather conditions, Hill said.