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Air New Zealand increases Virgin Blue ownership

Air New Zealand announced it has unwound equity swaps in Virgin Blue Holdings and taken ownership of an additional 0.8% of Virgin Blue shares. The transaction returns Air New Zealand's holding in Virgin Blue to 14.99%. Shares in Virgin Blue dropped 6.1% on Wednesday, hitting a seven-month low. Air New Zealand shares were down 1.8%, with the carrier reporting stronger Feb-2011 traffic.

Air New Zealand traffic highlights in Feb-2011:

  • Passenger numbers: 1.1 million, +6.9% year-on-year;
    • Short-haul: 923,000, +7.7%;
      • Domestic: 700,000, +5.9%;
      • Tasman/Pacific: 223,000, +13.7%;
    • Long-haul: 143,000, +2.1%;
  • Passenger load factor: 83.3%, +0.1 ppts;
    • Short-haul: 82.5%, +2.5 ppts;
      • Domestic: 83.3%, +2.3 ppts;
      • Tasman/Pacific: 82%, +2.6 ppts;
    • Long-haul: 83.8%, -1.4 ppts;
      • Asia/Japan/UK: 83.7%, -0.3 ppt;
      • North America/UK: 83.9%, -2.2 ppts.

Qantas announced it would increase domestic, regional and trans-Tasman fares sold in Australia in response to increasing oil and jet fuel prices. The move is Qantas' third fare/fuel surcharge increase in recent weeks aimed at offsetting high jet fuel prices. The airline expects its fuel bill to increase AUD2 billion in FY2011.

Philippine Airlines President Gerry Rivera stated the ground crew at the carrier commenced voting on 23-Mar-2011 on whether to go on strike to protest management’s refusal to “bargain” with the Philippine Airlines Employees Association. Philippine Airlines shares fell 3.9% yesterday.

Malaysian Airlines CEO Tengku Azmil Zahruddin stated the carrier may pare expansion plans in 2011 due to surging fuel prices.

Selected APAD daily share price movements (% change): 23-Mar-2011