Air New Zealand's team didn't win in yesterday's eleventh annual cricket match versus Goway, but they still had something to celebrate.
As the game wrapped up at Toronto's Cricket Club, the airline announced annual results which showed a profit of more than $332 million (before taxation) for the 2014 financial year, an increase of 30 per cent on the previous year.
"Why that's quite significant for us is that it's probably one of the best profit results we've posted in the company's history," said the airline's Chris Allison, manager - sales and market development in Canada.
Allison was appointed to the new role from Air New Zealand's UK office about six months ago, indicating a stronger commitment to the Canadian marketplace.
According to Allison, a "significant investment" in the airline overall throughout the next 12 to 18 months will have a "direct impact on our North American business and what we're doing in Canada."
A primary focus is currently on the fleet, which has just taken delivery of its first 787-9 aircraft, now flying Auckland-Sydney, and later going into regular scheduled service to Perth. As the airline brings in this new aircraft, it will be retiring its 767 fleet. In addition, Air New Zealand will soon be retiring its last 747 aircraft, which is being replaced by 777s - the aircraft predominantly flown into North American gateways including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver. This will allow the airline to increase capacity on these routes, Allison said, for example, with San Francisco having 10 services a week in peak season, between November and February.
"In terms of business out of Canada, we're also going through a fleet refurbishment program of our 777-200 fleet, which is the aircraft type we fly into Vancouver," he added. "In the next 12 months, we'll be completely refitting those."
The first of the refurbished aircraft came out last week, and with that, the airline has launched its Skycouch product in the market, which is basically three economy seats that convert into a flat service (although not a lay-flat bed product).
Allison pointed to strong growth in Canadian business, with more expected moving forward.
"Right now we fly anywhere between three and six times a week depending on the season, but we have a real strategic goal to grow that to daily service over the next two to three years," he said.
From a business perspective, service to both New Zealand and Australia are important for the airline, which means they work closely with each respective tourism office in the U.S. and Canada. As a Star Alliance member, Air Canada is its main partner in helping travellers from outside of the Vancouver area reach the west coast gateways.
For more information, visit www.airnewzealand.ca.
Photo: Bruce Hodge, founder, Goway & Chris Allison, manager - sales & market development, Canada, Air New Zealand