Sydney Airport says global tourism trends are working in Australia's favour, and that the influx of international visitors helped it post a healthy jump in earnings for the first half of the year.
The ASX-listed airport on Wednesday said its international passengers numbers grew 5.2 per cent in the six months to June 30 to 8.1 million, driving up total passenger numbers by 3.3 per cent to 21.6 million.
That growth, along with higher charges for airlines using its runways, helped drive a 7.6 per cent lift in revenue from aeronautical activities.
Sydney Airport's chief executive Geoff Culbert said the growth in passenger numbers reflected "our targeted marketing strategy, our partnerships with government and industry, ongoing benefits from the liberalisation of air rights, prudent investment in capacity and favourable global tourism and travel trends".
"We see both growth and improvement opportunities across our four businesses and have a significant investment program underway that will deliver efficient capacity, an improved customer experience and service excellence for our customers.”
There were 9.1 million visitors to Australia in the year ending June 2018, a year-on-year increase of 6 per cent, according to the Australians Bureau of Statistics.
Elsewhere in its operations, revenue from retail tenants rose 8.9 per cent, hotel and car rental operations jumped 10 per cent, and car parking and ground transport was up 2.1 per cent, the company said.
The company reported a half-year after-tax profit of $174 million, up 4 per cent from $166 million it returned in the same period last year.
Morgan Stanley analyst Rob Koh said aeronautical revenue grew slower than he expected while interest costs were also higher, but that "the result is not a concern to us at the half-year point", with full-year guidance in line with his and the market's forecasts.
The airport's growing revenue is likely to add fuel to a campaign by Australian and New Zealand airlines who claim they are being gouged by the region's airports and are calling for greater controls on how much they can charge airlines to use their runways and other infrastructure.
The Productivity Commission is currently investigating the regulation of Australia's airports.
Sydney Airport's shares closed up 3.6 per cent at $7.48. The company announced an i dividend of 18.5¢ per share, up 2¢ from last year.