Air NZ boss takes pay cut amid coronavirus fears

Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran has been in the top job for less than a month. Photo:...
Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran. Photo: Supplied
Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran has voluntarily offered to reduce his base pay of $1.65 million by about 15% ($250,000).

Mr Foran made the decision with the support of the Air New Zealand board, and the airline's executive team will extend their salary freeze that has been in place since May 2019.

The airline has also implemented a hiring freeze for all roles that are non-critical and will offer operational staff the option to take unpaid leave in addition to managing annual leave balances.

Mr Foran said it was increasingly clear that Covid-19 has created an unprecedented situation and it is difficult to predict future demand patterns.

Foran said Air NZ had put in place various labour initiatives, including a voluntary reduction of his pay, a hiring freeze for all non-critical roles and voluntary unpaid leave for operational staff.

FINANCIAL FORECAST SCRAPPED

Due to increased uncertainty surrounding the duration and scale of the Covid-19 outbreak, the airline on Monday announced it will be withdrawing the full year 2020 earnings guidance it issued to the market on February 24 and reconfirmed at its interim results announcement three days later. 

On February 24 it cut its full year underlying earnings guidance by as much as $75 million.

''However, the airline now believes that the financial impact is likely to be more significant than previously estimated and with the situation evolving at such a rapid pace, the airline is not in a position to provide an earnings outlook to the market at this time,'' it said in a notice to the NZX.

Already this year about a third of its market capitalisation - or about $1 billion - had been wiped out as investors dumped shares. An update on earnings expectations will be provided when appropriate.

Its half-year net profit slumped by 32% to $101 million and the airline warns coronavirus makes its outlook uncertain. Its earnings before other significant items and taxation of $198 million for the period ended December 31, compared to $217 million in the prior period.

Air New Zealand has already cut capacity on its Asia, Tasman and domestic networks, redeploying its fuel efficient 787 Dreamliner fleet to drive operational efficiencies and using tactical pricing to stimulate demand on the impacted sectors.

The further spread of Covid-19 to countries outside of China, including New Zealand, had driven a downward shift in demand. 

The airline has made four cuts to capacity over the last month, but in the course of the last week, the airline has seen additional softness in demand with a decline in bookings across its network, spreading to a market that had been previously holding up - North America.

Air New Zealand has implemented further capacity reductions to its network, which include extending the suspension of its Shanghai service through to the end of April, and additional consolidation of services across the Tasman, Pacific Islands and domestic network in March and April.

As a result of these actions, Air New Zealand has reduced total capacity into Asia by 26%, and total overall network capacity by approximately 10% since the outbreak of Covid-19 started.

Like other airlines, Air New Zealand is also pursuing a range of mitigations in response to the swift decline of demand.These include the deferral of non-urgent capital spend and non-critical business activity across operational and corporate functions.

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