Air New Zealand has chalked up record pre-tax earnings of almost $NZ500 million ($A454.
73 million) – a record for the national carrier.
The company says normalised earnings before taxation for the 2015 financial year were $NZ496m – up 49.6 per cent on last year.
But those earnings fell short of the airline’s June guidance of between $NZ520m-$NZ530m. Operating revenue rose six per cent to $NZ4.93 billion.
The airline’s net profit after tax was $NZ327m – an increase of 24 per cent from $NZ263m a year earlier.
“Our strategic initiatives over the past three years have positioned us well to take advantage of market dynamics which have contributed to these results,” said chairman Tony Carter.
Over the last year, Air NZ has increased both passenger numbers and capacity and has been boosted by cheap fuel prices.
“Lower fuel prices and current sales momentum have strengthened the company’s outlook, and this has seen the delivery of a record annual result that our shareholders and staff can be immensely proud of,” Mr Carter said.
It will pay a bonus of up to $NZ1400 to 8,000 staff not on other incentive schemes on the back of the result.
It will pay a fully imputed ordinary dividend of 9.5 cents per share taking the full-year dividend to NZ16 cents per share.
Last week, its major rival, Jetstar Group, reported its first-ever profit in New Zealand, carried by the same favourable conditions.
Air New Zealand has had a stranglehold on the domestic regional market for years and earlier this month cut fares on most routes ahead of Jetstar’s announcement next month of which regional destinations it will fly to from December.
The airline has said it will not be undercut on prices on the regional routes but analysts expect that will cut millions of dollars from its underlying earnings in the 2016 financial year.
The airline’s shares last traded at $NZ2.65 and have risen 35 per cent in the past year.