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Air New Zealand may be forced to make further moves to cut capacity after a big drop in passenger numbers and passenger load factor on long-haul routes.
The airline carried 1,242,000 passengers in the month, a 7.6% decline from March last year, although it is worth noting the timing of Easter, which happened in March last year and April this year, may have had an effect.
But despite slashing capacity by 10.2% compared to last March the airline’s passenger load factor fell by 2.8%.
The numbers for long-haul routes make for grim reading – passenger numbers plummeted 17.2% from March last year, and a 12.2% cut in capacity wasn’t enough to stave off a 4.1% drop in passenger load factor.
Passenger numbers on North America/UK routes fell 21.1% and Asia/Japan/UK routes fell by 13.3%.
Short haul routes weren’t quite so badly affected, dropping by 5.8% in passenger numbers and a relatively small 0.5% in passenger load factor thanks to schedule changes.
Domestic passenger load factor actually increased by 2.8% but the load factor on Tasman/Pacific flights fell by 2.4%.
Group-wide yields were up 8.3% and adjusted for foreign exchange were up 3.2%.
The drop in passenger load factor will be of huge concern to the airline, which has just witnessed two major rivals take drastic action to cut capacity and get costs under control.
Just days after Qantas announced it would be cutting up to 1750 jobs and grounding planes, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific made a similar announcement saying it would be requesting employees take unpaid leave.