Air New Zealand has reported a four-fold increase in profits for 2009, prompting speculation the global aviation industry may be emerging from the recession.
After taxation, the airline made a profit of NZ$82 million for the year ending June 30th, up from NZ$21 a year earlier.
Fuel hedging losses at the airline also dropped to NZ$8 million from $130 million.
The news follows earlier positive reports from Australian low-cost carrier Virgin Blue, and buoyed confidence in the sector.
However, Air New Zealand chairman, John Palmer, remained cautious: “The uncertainty surrounding the global economic recovery has continued to suppress demand for air travel over the past 12 months.”
Following the release of the results, Air New Zealand confirmed a dividend of four cents per share, taking total dividends for the year to seven cents per share.
This is an increase of eight per cent on 2009, and reflects the airline’s “improved outlook”.
Operating revenue - which includes passenger, cargo and contract services - fell NZ$563 million to NZ$4 billion.
However, operating costs were also down NZ$583 million to NZ$3.3 billion.
Air New Zealand last week launched a new trans-Tasman service.
In parallel, the reconfiguration of the airline’s short-haul A320 fleet to an all economy cabin has increased Tasman and Pacific Island capacity by 11 per cent.
“In addition, our proposed trans-Tasman alliance with Virgin Blue will create a far better and more sustainable service through working together, providing a greatly enhanced offering to our customers that will stimulate demand,” added Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe.