Air NZ soars above a wounded Qantas

AIR New Zealand's 45% increase in profit and a generous dividend to shareholders stands in sharp contrast to the woes of our national carrier.

The airline, owned largely by the New Zealand government, reported a $NZ 262 million ($235 million) net profit up from $NZ 181 million last year.

Air New Zealand seems unaffected by the problems facing Qantas including high fuel prices and continues to grow in passenger numbers and capacity.

The carrier has been quick to cancel underperforming routes and has boosted its presence in more profitable places such as North America.

It has kept niceties like complementary wine for passengers on evening flights and chocolates or sweets on take-off and landing after travellers rated these flourishes highly, and has combated rival budget airlines to some extent by offering the same sort of fair flexibility that they do.

Air New Zealand chairman Tony Carter said the airline was well positioned to continue growing, with new aircraft offering better operating economics, an optimised network with the right alliance partners, disciplined cost management and a focus on improving the customer experience.