Air NZ aims to keep lid on fares as named best in world

AIR New Zealand says stripping out costs from the business should allow it to keep a lid on fares during the coming year.

The airline is about to announce the expansion of its international network as new and upgraded long-haul aircraft enter its fleet.

Air New Zealand was yesterday named Airline of the Year by international product and safety review website in its inaugural awards.

Airline chief executive Christopher Luxon said the airline "most definitely" aimed to keep fares where they were but had a strategy to maintain its position at the head of the pack.

"We've got to keep investing and upgrading that customer experience and the product. It starts with the new fleet coming in - the customer experience is going to be much better and consistent," he said.

"We've still got a lot of work to do before we get to where we want to be."

Luxon said new systems were being introduced to root out cost and complexity in the business.

"There's no big blueprint of major cost-out initiatives. We just have to build it into our bloodstream."

The first of the airline's 10 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners arrives in the middle of the year, it has two leased Boeing 777-300s arriving and is refurbishing its 777-200s.

"The new fleet coming in will give us an advantage for a period of time until competitors have the same kinds of fleets in the next five to 10 years."

Replacing older 737s with Airbus A320s on domestic routes would allow the airline to maintain profitability by managing costs but keep a lid on prices.

The airline will soon announce new routes which Luxon said was part of being in growth mode. said it had honoured Air New Zealand for its in-flight innovations, financial performance, operational safety and motivation of its staff. The site also praised the airline's commitment to a young fleet and focus on the environment.

Air New Zealand was awarded best premium economy class.

AirlineRatings was launched in June last year and rates 450 airlines using a seven-star system. Its panel of aviation editors together have more than 150 years' experience covering the industry. editor Geoffrey Thomas said Air New Zealand was "quite simply" an airline of first choice. "And given the airline's location and the country's size its performance is even more remarkable."

Thomas said Air New Zealand was able to charge a "bit more" while delivering "a lot more".

Luxon said the awards were a great way to start the year "and reaffirm the hard work of more than 11,000 Air New Zealanders across our business".

Four other airlines which also fly to New Zealand made up the top five overall carriers. They are Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Qantas.

Among other category awards Emirates was judged top for first class, best inflight entertainment and best long-haul airline based in the Middle-East and Africa. Qantas won best lounges and best economy class, while subsidiary Jetstar was named best low-cost airline in Asia.

The Singapore Airlines group picked up best regional airline for subsidiary Silk Air and best long-haul airline based in Asia/Pacific. Cathay Pacific picked up best business class.

The awards differ from Skytrax awards which are determined by a public vote. Last week the site announced its top airlines for safety with Qantas first and Air New Zealand second.

The Top 10

1. Air NZ
2. Emirates
3. Cathay Pacific
4. Singapore Airlines
5. Qantas
6. Etihad Airways
7. Royal Jordanian Airlines
8. Swiss International
9. Virgin Atlantic
10. All Nippon Airways