Andrzej Jeziorski/SINGAPORE

Air New Zealand (ANZ) and its Australian subsidiary Ansett are to "re-launch" later this year in a move which will see the ANZ group develop closer ties with part-owner Singapore Airlines. The group is also planning to modernise its fleet and revamp its route network as part of the plan, while SIA may increase its ownership of the group and take a direct stake in Ansett.

ANZ chief executive Gary Toomey says in a television interview that he wants the airline to get closer to SIA, its Star Alliance partner and 25% shareholder. "It's a great opportunity for us to leverage off their product, their technology and the commercial relationship," he says.

Toomey adds that ANZ is looking at adopting SIA strategies and technologies to increase efficiency, and is studying ways of allowing SIA to increase its holding, currently at its upper limit. SIA has talked of increasing its stake to 40%. "There may be opportunities through some hybrids and other forms of financing, which may not be as effective as straight equity, but which might get us by for some time," he says.

Toomey says he wants to "change the culture" of the ANZ group "to make sure that people now see our organisation as a successful one", and that this will see it cater more to high-yield passengers. Ansett's new long-haul routes will reflect this, with the likely launch of services to Los Angeles and Tokyo.

Australian and New Zealand press reports meanwhile cite analysts as claiming that SIA is also looking at taking a direct stake in Ansett, with the Singapore carrier saying only that this is "speculation". Ansett is 100%-ownedby ANZ.

The New Zealand airline -hitherto an all-Boeing operator - confirms that it is considering Airbus and Boeing options for its new fleet, but will not comment on specific types. It or Ansett may take on leased Airbus A340s, possibly ex-Singapore Airlines (SIA) aircraft, understood to be the subject of talks between all three carriers.

Source: Flight International