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Air New Zealand has announced earnings before taxation for the first six months of the 2018 financial year of $323 million, compared to $349 million in the prior period.
Net profit after taxation was $232 million.
The result was driven by operating revenue growth of 5.6 per cent, with robust demand across all markets and particularly strong growth in the short-haul network.
Passenger revenue reached an all-time record for an interim result, at $2.3 billion.
The airline’s continued focus on sustainable cost initiatives also contributed to the interim performance, as efficiencies offset the impact of inflation on unit costs, excluding fuel.
Cash flow from operations grew $103 million or 27 per cent to $479 million, driven by growth in cash operating earnings and a strong working capital cash flow as the business grows.
Chairman Tony Carter said: “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.”
The board has declared a fully imputed interim dividend of 11 cents per share, an increase of ten per cent from the prior period and the highest ordinary interim dividend in the airline’s history.
“Based on the strength of the result, and the airline’s financial position, future capital commitments and positive trading environment, the Board felt it appropriate to raise the level of the interim dividend,” said Carter.
The interim dividend will be paid on March 16th to investors on record as of the close of business on March 9th.
The airline also announced the launch of a new direct service to Taipei, beginning in November 2018.
Taipei will become the airline’s seventh destination in Asia, and is another strong addition to Air New Zealand’s focused strategy of connecting the Pacific Rim to New Zealand.
Taipei is an economic centre with renowned attractions, cuisine and shopping, and the airline is excited to offer New Zealanders the opportunity to explore this new destination.
The airline will fly up to five times a week between Auckland and Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport from November, with NZ77 departing Auckland at 10:35 and arriving in Taipei at 16:50.
NZ78 will depart Taipei at 18:30 local time, arriving in Auckland at 10:20 the next morning.
With a flight time of just over 11 hours, the service from Auckland to the central Asian destination will be operated by Air New Zealand’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.
Air New Zealand chief executive, Christopher Luxon, said New Zealand is already a popular destination for visitors from this region and the new direct route will encourage even more tourist activity.
“Air New Zealand’s new service is significantly quicker and more convenient than current indirect options.
“New Zealand already welcomes around 36,000 visitors a year from the Taiwan market and we’re confident a direct link will grow numbers further.
“Providing a non-stop service to Taipei will also enable more Kiwis to explore this destination.
“Taipei is a culturally diverse city renowned for its food scene, lively night markets, traditional temples and busy shopping streets – all crowned by the Taipei 101 skyscraper that dominates the city’s skyline.
“Beyond Taipei there are nine national parks offering nature experiences and activities such as hiking and biking as well as beautiful beaches.”