Busiest month ever at Christchurch Airport

Statistics reveal the number of passengers through the terminal was the highest number for any month on record.

Chief Aeronautical and Commercial Officer Justin Watson says 638,043 passengers used the terminal during December, up 4.8% on the previous December.

"This equates to more than the entire population of Canterbury and the West Coast through the terminal during the past month alone," he says.

"The growth highlights the resurgent contribution Christchurch makes as the primary gateway to the South Island, and reflects the significant airline capacity growth the airport has achieved with its new and existing airline partners over the past three years. New services or larger aircraft are now flying between Christchurch and Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Pacific Islands, as well as domestically within New Zealand. Pleasingly, all our international airline partners are telling us most seats were full during December."

International arrivals led the December growth, with a 7.7% increase across the month. The largest increases came on long-haul flights from Asia, with China up 41%, Hong Kong 79%, India 26% and South Korea 23%. European visitors also grew strongly at 12% out of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France and Germany.

It's not just passengers coming and going in record numbers. Our international carriers are also handling strong demand for South Island fruit, seafood and flowers exported directly to Asia.

Justin Watson says South Island tourism industry is the big winner from growth at Christchurch Airport, as visitors arriving here go on to visit more regions in the South Island than any other arrival point in New Zealand.

"December is the start of the busy visitor season, with the strong growth forecast to continue through until March," he says.

"We're well over 20,000 passengers a day on average and the terminal has a real buzz and sense of excitement about it. It's a big job handling that number of people and everyone from the airlines, ground operators, government agencies, rental car operators and airport staff have done a fantastic job making sure everything runs smoothly.

"All in all, Christchurch Airport was clearly the place to be in December."