"We clearly acknowledge this is not the result we would have liked to have achieved at the end of the financial year," said John Palmer, Chairman of the Board. "But given the extraordinarily challenging business environment the airline is operating in, this is a respectable result."

The Board declared a fully imputed final dividend of 2.5 cents per share.

The current expectation of the Board is to maintain the present dividend flows.

Net profit after tax was $96 million, 47 percent down on the previous period due to fuel price increases.

"Air New Zealand has outlined its plan for growing and transforming its business into a nimble, innovative and thriving world class airline," said Rob Fyfe, Chief Executive Officer.

"Over the last year we've demonstrated beyond doubt that we are beginning to execute that plan, and we have done exactly what we said we would."

The year closed with Air New Zealand:

  • refurbishment of its 747 fleet on time and on budget;
  • refurbishing lounges in Los Angeles and Melbourne;
  • taking delivery of 5 of its 8 new 777-200ER fleet, 4 new A320's and 8 of subsidiary Air Nelson's 17 new Q300 fleet;
  • launching a new long haul service to Shanghai and a second daily service to London;
  • successfully outsourcing wide-body aero engine maintenance;
  • reducing corporate overhead costs;
  • developing new in-house on-line booking software;
  • unveiling a new network strategy;
  • suspending flying on unprofitable routes such as Singapore, and actively investigating new and promising potential markets.

"It has been quite a year," said Mr Fyfe.

"We now have a world class in flight product, world class customer service and we are growing a world class culture within this airline.

The challenge for us is to maintain those levels of performance."

Mr Fyfe said that in any other business environment Air New Zealand should have seen an increase in its profit as a result of these measures.

But an unprecedented 44 percent rise in the price of jet fuel has forced the company's profitability down.

"However we cannot solely hide behind fuel price increases as the excuse for our decrease in profitability," said Mr Fyfe.

"There are still more tough strategic, workforce and workplace decisions to be taken to ensure Air New Zealand meets its potential.

"We are absolutely determined to ensure Air New Zealand grows and expands to be highly successful."

Operational review

Operating revenue for the year was $3.8 billion, an increase of $189 million or 5% over last year.

As a result of a 6% yield improvement, passenger revenue increased $179 million or 6% to $3.1 billion. Included in the passenger revenue increase is a $24 million negative foreign exchange impact.

Other external revenue increased $10 million or 1% to $746 million. A $62 million increase in freight revenue was partially offset by reductions in external engineering revenue, due to higher internal engineering (747 refit) and maintenance requirements.

Higher fuel prices led to total expenses, excluding borrowing costs, increasing by $253 million or 7% to $3.7 billion.

Cash position

Cash generated from operating activities was $473 million, an increase of $36 million over last year.

The company acquired assets, mainly aircraft related, to the value of $764 million during the year.

Debt drawdowns against aircraft purchases totalled $589 million. Offsetting this were debt repayments of $163 million.

Financial position

The closing net cash balance was $1,150 million, an $80 million increase over the previous year.

Cash is invested in bank deposits held by New Zealand financial institutions. The overall interest income earned yielded an effective average interest rate of 7.3%.

Total assets increased $693 million to $4.8 billion following the acquisition of new aircraft and the refurbishment of the 747 fleet.

Total liabilities increased $640 million to $3.2 billion, mainly as a result of debt financing of new aircraft. However, the substantial cash position means that net debt remains low at $203 million.

The company's gearing (including net capitalised aircraft operating leases) is 54.7%.

The company's strong financial position has meant that $245 million of debt, scheduled for repayment over the next three years, will now be repaid early in the 2007 financial year.

Shareholder funds as at 30 June 2006 were $1.6 billion, an increase of $53 million.

Outlook

Looking ahead, an unstable international situation, volatile oil prices and the softening New Zealand economy mean challenging times remain.

Air New Zealand is mitigating the ongoing impact of fuel on the business, with 60% of oil usage hedged at US$71 per barrel and ongoing changes to the network.

A weakening NZD is positive for long-haul revenue, but this will be offset by higher USD costs for leases, fuel and maintenance.

The company currently has 91% of its net USD foreign exchange position hedged at 68 cents (US$835 million).

But the Airline won't escape the impact of high fuel prices, and these will heavily influence the level of Air New Zealand's profitability in the 2007 financial year.

ENDS.

Issued by Air New Zealand Public Affairs.

For further information please contact:

Mike Tod
General Manager Public Affairs
09 336 3225
021 747 582
Mike.Tod@airnz.co.nz

Or

David Jamieson
Executive Analyst
Office of the CEO
09 336 2253
021 727 436
David.Jamieson@airnz.co.nz

NOTE: The content of all Air New Zealand media releases are accurate at the time of issue, as stated at the top of each release. For updates on any changes, please contact Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand is proud to be a member of Star Alliance. The Star Alliance network was established in 1997 as the first truly global airline alliance to offer worldwide reach, recognition and seamless service to the international traveller. Its acceptance by the market has been recognised by numerous awards, including the Air Transport World Market Leadership Award, Best Airline Alliance by both Business Traveller Magazine and Skytrax. The member airlines are: Adria Airways, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Blue1, bmi, Continental Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EGYPTAIR, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spanair, SWISS, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, THAI, United and US Airways. Aegean Airlines, Air India, Brussels Airlines and TAM have been announced as future members. Overall, the Star Alliance network offers 19,500 daily flights to 1,071 airports in 171 countries.

For more information about Air New Zealand visit www.airnewzealand.com and for more information about Star Alliance visit www.staralliance.com.