Air New Zealand Lifts Dividend, Expects FY18 Earnings to Rebound

By Ben Collins Features Dow Jones Newswires

WELLINGTON, New Zealand--Air New Zealand Ltd. (AIR.NZ), the country's flagship airline, raised its dividend by 10% despite increased competition from other airlines driving its annual profit lower.

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The company said its net profit was 382 million New Zealand dollars (US$278 million) in the year through June, down from NZ$463 million a year ago. However, directors declared a final dividend of 11 cents a share, up from 10 cents a year ago, and bringing the annual payout to 21 cents.

"Based on the airline's strong financial position, future capital commitments and improving trading environment, the board felt it appropriate to increase the dividend," Chairman Tony Carter said.

Air New Zealand's earnings before taxation was the second-highest result in the airline's history at NZ$527 million, albeit down from NZ$663 million the previous year. Operating revenue for the period was NZ$5.1 billion, compared with NZ$5.2 billion in 2016.

"This year Air New Zealand faced an unprecedented increase in the level of competition from some of the world's largest airlines and effectively rose to the challenge," Chief Executive Christopher Luxon said.

The airline, which connects New Zealand to destinations in Australia, the U.S. and Asia, said it was optimistic about market conditions for the 2018 financial year. As a result, it expected to increase its earnings, assuming jet fuel prices average US$60 per barrel throughout the year.

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Write to Ben Collins at ben.collins@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 22, 2017 17:34 ET (21:34 GMT)