1 Mar 2013

Air NZ sees growth potential in Asia Pacific region

8:03 am on 1 March 2013

Air New Zealand says it sees huge growth potential in the Asia Pacific region but can't take full advantage of the opportunities until new planes arrive next year.

The national carrier almost tripled its half year profit in the six months to December to $139 million as it sold more tickets and lowered costs.

Its long haul arm also became profitable for the first time in five years as it reduced costs, in part due to newer, more efficient planes, and sharpened its sales process.

Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon sais the company has worked hard to turn around the business which is now positioned for growth.

Mr Luxon said the airline hopes to get two new Boeing 777 planes and four Dreamliner aircraft next year.

While it hasn't been decided where the aircraft will be deployed, Mr Luxon said the Pacific and Asia offer great growth opportunities for Air New Zealand.

He said Asia offered the greatest growth opportunities and China has now overtaken the UK as New Zealand's second biggest tourism market with 195,000 visitors.

Meanwhile, Mr Luxon is confident Air New Zealand will get the three Boeing Dreamliners it has ordered by the end of next year and that the problems plaguing the planes will be sorted by then.

Air New Zealand airline says it is on track to more than double last year's full year profit of $91 million.

The company's shares were up 5.5 cents to $1.40 on Thursday.