Despite a strong recovery of domestic travel and its cargo operations, Air New Zealand counts on more losses in 2022 as well as this year. In an investor’s update on June 18, it said that international remains uncertain. ANZ is expecting a loss before taxes this year no higher than NZ$ 450 million, with an almost identical result forecasted for 2022.
Air New Zealand has seen strong demand on its domestic network, with business travel showing signs of recovery. The carrier operates at ninety percent capacity compared to pre-Covid levels, with load factors going up as well. Capacity on the Trans-Tasman network is recovering to seventy percent. Last August, the pandemic wiped out 74 percent of revenues.
Cargo is a significant factor in the carrier’s current financial position, which translates into cash-positive operations since the second quarter of this year and a positive EBITDA since September last year. Under the government’s Maintaining International Air Connectivity scheme, Air New Zealand expects to receive NZ$320-340 million in support for its cargo operations. This and other financial benefits will no longer apply in 2022. Until October, it will operate on average thirty cargo flights per week.
International flights to the Pacific Islands and its long-haul network operate at respectively two and five percent capacity, as travel restrictions and border closures for non-Kiwi’s continue. Recovery of long-haul will not be meaningful for some time and the reopening is highly uncertain, despite progress made on vaccinations. ANZ is in the same situation as Qantas in Australia, which doesn’t expect to restart international services in earnest until summer 2022.
Delivery of first 787-10 deferred
As it counts on more losses in 2022, Air New Zealand will continue its prudent eye to costs and cost reductions wherever is possible. To reduce capital expenditures, the carrier has negotiated with Boeing to defer the delivery of eight 787-10s ordered in May 2019, powered by General Electric GEnx-engines instead of Rolls-Royce Trents like the current Dreamliners. The first was slated to arrive in FY23 but this has been shifted to FY24. The airline has the right to defer the delivery of the other 787s beyond the current schedule of 2024.
Air New Zealand’s liquidity position remains strong. It currently has NZ$1.15 billion available as it has drawn down only NZ$350 million of the Crown standby loan facility. Before October, the carrier plans to undertake a capital raise, with parts of the proceeds to be used to repay the amounts that have been drawn down.