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Air New Zealand raises first half profit outlook on travel demand

FILE PHOTO: An Air New Zealand Boeing 777 plane taxis after landing at Kingsford Smith International Airport in Sydney

(Reuters) - Air New Zealand Ltd on Thursday increased its earnings forecast for the first half of fiscal 2023, helped by strong travel demand across its domestic and international networks and a decline in jet fuel prices.

The increased profit outlook follows a moderation in fuel prices in recent weeks and assumes that the airline will fly about 75% of its pre-COVID capacity levels across the network in December, according to Air New Zealand.

The company now expects earnings before tax and other significant items between NZ$295 million ($187.5 million) and NZ$325 million for the first half ending Dec. 31, compared with its previous outlook of NZ$200 million to NZ$275 million.

The airline's ticket sales for the past two months have remained robust as international destinations reopen for travel, the country's flagship carrier said.

Air New Zealand, however, added that capacity was still constrained and would continue to impact pricing.

The company, which has been posting losses since 2020, did not provide a full-year outlook, citing factors such as inflationary pressures.

($1 = 1.5731 New Zealand dollars)

(Reporting by Himanshi Akhand in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)