22 Feb 2011

Good and not-so-good news for Air New Zealand

7:45 am on 22 February 2011

There's been good news and not-so-good news for Air New Zealand.

The national carrier says it'll start using its bigger Boeing 747-400 aircraft on the Tokyo route, as Japanese visitor numbers show signs of recovering.

Patronage rose 12% to nearly 88,000 last year, though it's still only half the number of Japanese who flew to New Zealand in 2004.

The airline will replace the 304-seat Boeing Triple-7 planes with the 379-seat 747s between December and February next summer.

Separately, however, Air New Zealand is being forced to dump part of its 14.9% stake in Virgin Blue, because the Australian carrier is in breach of foreign ownership rules.

Virgin Blue says foreign investors hold 49.78%, which exceeds the cap of 49%.

Air New Zealand will rid itself of the .8% difference until foreign ownership falls below the threshold.