The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Air New Zealand's profit up 45 per cent and carrier says new planes will help it grow next year

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand - New Zealand's national airline on Wednesday posted a 45 per cent increase in profit on slightly higher revenues.

Air New Zealand announced an after-tax profit of 262 million New Zealand dollars ($218 million) for the year ending June. Revenue was up 1 per cent to NZ$4.7 billion.

Chairman Tony Carter said in a statement it was the carrier's third straight year of strong earnings growth. He said the carrier's new aircraft were able to operate more profitably and it had formed good alliances with other airlines.

He said the company's capacity will grow significantly in the coming year as new airplanes arrive.

Carter said the carrier expects an improved result next year, based on its current assessments of demand and fuel costs, and excluding earnings from Virgin Australia, in which it owns a 24.5 per cent stake.

The company's shares were up 1.4 per cent after the announcement and were trading at NZ$2.18. Its strong results have contrasted with financial losses and job cuts announced this year by Australia's flagship airline, Qantas.

Air New Zealand was the launch customer for Boeing's 787-9, an extended version of the 787. The carrier was recently granted regulatory approval for an alliance with Singapore Airlines. It also has alliances with Virgin Australia and Cathay Pacific.

The carrier is 53 per cent owned by the New Zealand government. It has gained international attention for its quirky inflight safety videos, which have featured actress Betty White, hobbits, and Sports Illustrated swimsuit models.

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