Air New Zealand declared it is in the ‘revive’ phase following the COVID-19 pandemic, with booking levels high and the Boeing 777-300ER fleet being reactivated.
The Kiwi flag carrier released financial results for the year to June 30, 2022, showing a loss before other significant items and taxation of NZD725 million ($452 million), compared with a loss of NZD444 million ($277 million) for the previous year.
Although cargo and domestic revenues were strong, the lack of flying in general due to closed borders and high fuel prices led to the loss, Air New Zealand said in a statement on August 25, 2022.
Still, chief executive Greg Foran said the carrier was now “firmly” in the ‘revive’ phase of the post-pandemic ‘survive, revive, thrive’ journey, in spite of current challenges. Like other airlines globally, Air New Zealand was forced to change its schedules, reducing seats by 1.5% through to the end of March 2023.
“As we’ve been seeing overseas, travel demand is much stronger than anyone anticipated. But we’re operating in a very tight labour market with high fuel prices, tough economic conditions and the highest levels of employee sickness in more than a decade,” Foran commented.
After New Zealand began opening its borders in March 2022, Air New Zealand expects its 2023 financial year to be the first full year of uninterrupted passenger flying since the beginning of the pandemic. Total flying capacity for the 2023 financial year is expected to be 75-80% of pre-Covid levels.
“When travel restrictions began to lift in March the company recorded a very strong recovery in bookings and revenues,” the carrier said. “This trend continues, with high booking levels through July and August. Corporate bookings are also encouraging and are trending closely towards pre-Covid levels.”
What’s next for Air New Zealand?
Among the biggest signs that Air New Zealand is coming out of the pandemic was the announcement that it intends to bring its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft back from the desert.
The airline said three of its seven 777-300ERs are currently operational and the remainder (seven in total) will be flying by the end of FY23.
The airline has also come up with a plan to refresh its Boeing 787 Dreamliner cabins, which will give even those in economy class the chance to sleep in a lie-flat bed.
In a presentation accompanying the results it said the refit of the 14 existing Boeing 787 aircraft is due to start no earlier than mid-2024 and will cost approximately NZD450 million ($281 million), spaced out over several years.
Air New Zealand is also preparing to start direct flights from Auckland (AKL) to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) New York in September 2022. However, competition is coming, with Australian flag carrier Qantas announcing on August 25, 2022 that it also plans to fly from AKL to JFK starting June 2023.