Ports of Auckland has reported flat first-half earnings and trimmed its interim dividend payment to the city as the cost of introducing greater automation offset a 9.1 per cent increase in revenue.
Net profit slipped to $29.2 million in the six months ended December. 31 from $29.3m a year earlier, it said on Friday.
The company paid a dividend of $23.8m for the period, down from $25.3m a year earlier.
Ports of Auckland embarked on a transformation programme in 2016 to prepare the transport hub for a more automated future and has developed a draft 30-year master plan to prepare the operations for the future.
Capital expenditure rose to $70.7m from $44.5m a year earlier. It will start testing its first two automated straddle carriers and has started work on automating truck handling lanes which are scheduled to go live next year.
"Despite advances in container handling technology, in many ways shipping is still a traditional industry," chief executive Tony Gibson said.
"The processes behind most shipping transactions could be described as archaic, but that is set to change rapidly with the advent of technologies such as blockchain."
The port's future will be considered in a government review of the Upper North Island Supply Chain study, with a rail extension to Whangarei's Northport under consideration as an option to relocate part of Auckland's port operations out of the central city.
That review has asked KiwiRail to put forward infrastructure proposals, and Ports of Auckland today said it was working with the state-owned rail operator to see how it can shift more freight on to the rail network and off roads.
Ports of Auckland's revenue rose to $120.6m from $110.5m a year earlier, with container volumes up 3 per cent to 508,262 and total general cargo volumes rising 4.7 per cent to 3.41 million tonnes.