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Auckland Airport cancels interim dividend payment as coronavirus sees mass flight cancellations

Auckland Airport is cancelling it's interim dividend payment as it braces for further flight cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The airport's chief executive Adrian Littlewood announced the news in a statement today following further information from airlines, including Air New Zealand's plans to reduce its international and domestic capacity in the coming months.

"This decision has not been taken lightly but our businesses are very closely linked and when airlines reduce flying and fewer people travel, our revenues fall too. As this happens, we will act fast as an organisation to reduce spending and cut costs," he said.

Mr Littlewood said continuing with this year's interim dividend payment of 11c per share on April 3 "would not be in the best interests of the company".

"We realise some of our shareholders may be disappointed, but we ask for their understanding amid these extremely challenging circumstances," he said.

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The global coronavirus outbreak has had a dire impact on the airline.

The cancellation follows other cost cutting measures, including a hiring freeze, a suspension on all discretionary spending and a review of work underway with external consultants.

Management is also reviewing its capital expenditure programme and the airport's board has decided to reduce directors’ fees by 20 per cent. Mr Littlewood has also volunteered to cut his salary by 20 per cent.

The changes will remain in place for the rest of the financial year.

"This continues to be a dynamic situation, and our focus remains on maintaining the airport operation and supporting the Ministry of Health and border agencies in protecting New Zealand against the spread of Covid-19," Mr Littlewood said.

Auckland Airport yesterday announced it had suspended earnings guidance for the year to June 30.