Air NZ confidence sky high

Air New Zealand says it is on track to report its second-highest annual profit, even after reporting slightly lower earnings before interest and tax in the six months ended December.

The airline reported ebit of $323million for the period, down from $349million reported in the previous corresponding period.

Revenue was up 5.6% to $2.73billion from $2.58billion and the operating profit was up slightly to $701million from $698million.

Importantly for shareholders, Air NZ lifted its interim tax-paid profit 10% to 11c per share - the highest ordinary interim dividend in the airline's history.

Chairman Tony Carter said shareholders could be pleased with the high quality financial performance demonstrating the airline's resilience despite an 19% increase in fuel price.

``This high quality interim performance was driven by robust passenger demand and revenue growth, reflecting the airline's strong position in New Zealand and throughout our Pacific Rim network.''

Based on the strength of the result, and the airline's financial position, future capital commitments, the board felt it appropriate to raise the level of the interim dividend, he said.

The half-year reported showed Air NZ achieved record passenger revenue of $2.3billion from 8.5million passengers carried during the six months.

Chief executive Christopher Luxon said 2018 was shaping up to be another exciting year for Air NZ.

The domestic market continued to show strength, driven by the New Zealand economy, as well as inbound tourism.

``We will be increasing capacity about 6% across our regional and jet services to support demand over the second half of the financial year.''

The transtasman and Pacific Island routes had also responding strongly to additional wide-body services and targeted capacity increases, he said.

Air NZ's alliance partnerships continued to drive value across the international long-haul network and had been a key factor in the airline's ability to effectively compete against much larger airlines.

Air NZ announced yesterday the launch of a new direct service to Taipei, starting in November. Taipei would become the airline's seventh destination in Asia.

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