Air NZ's first-half earnings down but dividend up

The airline company boosts interim dividend 10% to its highest yet.

Air New Zealand’s [NZX:AIR] half-year earnings are down on the year before but are still its second-highest interim earnings.

The airline company reported its pre-tax earnings for the six months to December 31 of $323 million, compared with $349 million in the previous period which included a $22 million gain related to the divestment of Virgin Australia.

Net profit after taxation was $232 million, down from $256 million, while cashflow from operations increased 27% to $479 million.

Operating revenue was up 5.6% to $2.7 billion, with strong growth in the short-haul network.

Passenger revenue was $2.3 billion, its highest ever, with 8.5 million passengers carried during the period. Capacity increased 3.4%.

Chairman Tony Carter says the financial results demonstrate the airline’s resilience despite an 18% increase in fuel price. 

“This high-quality interim performance was driven by robust passenger demand and revenue growth, reflecting the airline’s strong position in New Zealand and throughout our Pacific Rim network.” 

The board approved a fully imputed interim dividend of 11c a share, a 10% increase on the previous period and the highest ordinary interim dividend in the airline’s history.

The increase was made based on the strength of the result, the airline’s financial position and future capital commitments, and positive trading environment, Mr Carter says.

Chief executive Christopher Luxon says the airline will increase capacity about 6% across its regional and jet services to support domestic demand over the second half of the financial year. 

He also announced the launch of a new direct service to Taipei, beginning in November, which will become the airline’s seventh destination in Asia.

The board expects full-year pre-tax earnings to exceed last year’s $527 million.

The stock rose 2.9 percent to $3.05 and has gained 38 percent over the past year. 

More to come.

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