Sydney, Australia, Jun 18 (EFE).- Air New Zealand does not expect long-haul international flights to meaningfully recover before mid-2022, despite the rollout of the global vaccination campaign against Covid-19, the company said Friday, anticipating that it will record losses in the next fiscal year.
New Zealand, whose Covid-19 response is considered the best in the world, has kept its international borders closed since March 2020 and has only opened two travel bubbles with Australia and the Cook Islands, from April and May, respectively.
“The airline is not expecting any meaningful recovery in long-haul demand in the 2022 financial year, notwithstanding the rollout of global vaccination programmes and the potential for long-haul borders to begin reopening progressively in the second half of the financial year,” the airline said in a statement to the New Zealand stock exchange.
“Despite the Domestic market continuing to perform strongly and the fact that bookings on the Tasman and Cook Islands continue to build, a large degree of uncertainty remains,” it said, adding that passenger volumes of long-haul international flights were currently less than 5 percent of pre-Covid levels.
The reopening of New Zealand’s international borders depends mainly on the vaccination campaign in the country, which after vaccinating border, healthcare and essential workers, as well as the vulnerable populations, will begin to vaccinate the rest of its inhabitants at the end of July with a view to concluding its immunization program before the end of the year.
The airline also noted that although the demand for domestic travel, which is at 90 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels, as well as its cargo business have contributed to mitigating the negative impact of Covid-19 on the company, it was necessary to reduce its costs.
One of the measures adopted towards that is the renegotiation of the delivery date of the first of eight new Boeing 787 Dreamliners for 2024, instead of 2023, the airline said.
Air New Zealand also forecast net losses of about NZ$450 million ($315 million) for the 2021 financial year, which ends on June 30.
New Zealand has recorded a total of 2,358 Covid-19 infections since the start of the pandemic, including 356 probable cases, and 26 deaths.
It currently has 23 active cases, all of them in quarantine centers for overseas arrivals. EFE