Air New Zealand says it may cut some domestic and international routes in a bid to stem expected losses from the earthquakes in Christchurch and Japan.
The New Zealand flag carrier warned investors that the two natural disasters would wipe out its profits for the second half of the year, sending its shares 10 percent lower. It also warned that it would be forced to cut routes and frequencies to align itself to lower demand.
Last week Air New Zealand announced average fare increases of 7 percent due to higher fuel costs. It said aviation fuel had risen from US$114 a barrel six months ago to US$130, adding an estimated US$10 million a month to operating costs.
Chief executive Rob Fyfe told Radio NZ that the airline was expecting passenger numbers on flights to and from Japan to fall by about 30 per cent, following the earthquakes.
He also said that a flight bound for Japan on Monday night only had 70 or 80 passengers on board.
“It was a 300 seat aircraft. We had a late cancellation of 190 - a large school group,” he said.
Only last month Air New Zealand said it was reintroducing 747s to Tokyo in a move that demonstrated the growth potential of the Japan tourism market.
An Air New Zealand spokeperson this week told the New Zealand Herald that the airline was continuing with its plans for the jumbo jets but was monitoring the situation closely.