Air New Zealand aims to double earnings for 2013

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Air New Zealand (ANZ) hopes to more than double its earnings in 2013 after its strong earnings for FY2012, and foresees more benefits from its fleet modernisation programme.

"We have come through some tough times and the worst impacts of natural disasters like the Christchurch earthquake and tsunami in Japan are behind us, which means growth opportunities are no longer suppressed," ANZ chairman John Palmer said in statement.

"[The group] views the future with optimism and is pursuing a clear strategy to strengthen its Australasian operations, while being ahead of target in restructuring our international long-haul network to improve financial performance," Palmer added.

ANZ hopes to double its earnings before tax, based on its forecasts of market demand and fuel prices.

The carrier's "closer and more effective relationship" with Virgin Australia is also bearing fruit, the group's chief executive, Rob Fyfe, said in a statement.

ANZ owns a 19.99% stake in the Australian carrier, which allows it to benefit from Australia's domestic market. The [domestic market in Australia] is growing faster than New Zealand's, Fyfe added.

This co-operation includes the sharing of General Electric GE90 powerplants for the two carriers' Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. ANZ had previously done heavy maintenance inspections of Virgin's 777-300ERs, and conducted upgrading work on the Australian carrier's 737 aircraft.

ANZ's fleet modernisation plan includes the replacement of its 747-400s with 777-300ERs, which burns 19% less fuel on a payload adjusted basis and offers more cargo space.

As a result, ANZ reduced its 747-400 fleet from five to two aircraft, while the number of 777-300ER aircraft increased from three to five. Fyfe added that the 777-300ER has 40% more cargo capacity than the 747-400, which helped in boosting network wide cargo revenue by 7.2%.

ANZ's Airbus A320-200 fleet size increased from 14 in June 2011 to 17 in June 2012, while the group dropped two aircraft from its 737-300 fleet, bringing it to 13.

"The Airbus A320, which is progressively replacing the 737-300 on domestic routes, improves fuel efficiency by 20% while offering faster, quieter operation," said Fyfe.

ANZ hopes to further improve its financial performance through the benefits of a more fuel-efficient fleet that requires less maintenance, and a "re-engineering" of its international network to ensure it focuses on the most lucrative markets in future, he added.