25 Nov 2008

Downturn in Air NZ passenger numbers

1:51 pm on 25 November 2008

Air New Zealand carried nearly 2% fewer passengers in October than the same month last year.

The airline, which announced this month it was laying off 200 staff, carried 971,000 people in October.

The trans-Tasman route continues to be of concern, with the number of passengers falling by about 10% to 216,000.

On its long haul routes, the national carrier managed to keep its planes nearly four-fifths full despite fewer travellers from North America and Britain, by cutting the number of flights.

The domestic market bucked the trend, seeing patronage rise 2% in the month.

The figures are a reminder that conditions remain tough as the global economic downturn continues.

Some 30 airlines have folded this year, and profitable airlines like Air New Zealand have axed jobs and grounded planes to cut costs.

Analysts say Air New Zealand is better placed than most to cope, as it has a strong balance sheet, while its fuel bill has fallen due to lower crude prices.