Air Transport World

Wishing on a Star.

Air New Zealand links its future success to membership in the Star Alliance as Asia's malaise continues

In the face of a mild earnings dip in its fiscal year ended last June 30, Air New Zealand is reprogramming itself while it's still ahead. The readjustment underlines fundamental commercial concerns that hinge increasingly on the need to grow its regional mass to support burgeoning global partnerships in light of the ongoing problems in the Asia/Pacific region. "We had to reprioritize," declares Managing Director Jim McCrea. "The airline retrenched prudently in Asia [cutting back in Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Seoul] while ensuring that it retained an appropriate presence and service level [via code shares, for example] to benefit from future economic recovery."

As the airline reduced its theater presence, it concentrated greater capacity and marketing resources on the U.S., U.K., Europe and Australia. For fiscal 1998, that meant long-haul Pacific and Atlantic routes represented 47% of capacity, 25% was focused on New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific islands, and 28% on Asia, with Japan dominating.

Overall, however, the overriding operative concept these days is the Star Alliance, which ANZ formally joins in March, in conjunction with its equity partner, Ansett Australia/Ansett International. ANZ managers appear mesmerized--if not totally starry-eyed--by prospects of growing the carrier through Star membership. …

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