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Air New Zealand falls after earnings outlook cut on stiff competition

FILE PHOTO: The logo for Air New Zealand is displayed at their office located at Sydney International Airport, Australia

By Rajasik Mukherjee

(Reuters) - Air New Zealand trimmed its annual earnings estimates on Monday, citing economic headwinds and a cost-of-living crisis leading to softer revenue in domestic and North American markets, sending the carrier's shares to a near two-year low.

Shares of Air NZ slipped as much 3.5% to NZ$0.550, hitting their lowest level since July 1, 2022. The shares were poised for their worst day since March 7, if losses hold.

New Zealand's flagship carrier now expects earnings before taxation between NZ$190 million ($112.01 million) and NZ$230 million for 2024, down from previous estimate of NZ$200 million to NZ$240 million.

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"North American performance continues to be impacted by very competitive pricing pressures, as the market adjusts to the significant capacity added into the New Zealand market by U.S. carriers," the carrier said in a statement.

Earlier in February, the company forecast lower earnings for 2024 and flagged an impact from high engine maintenance costs.

The airline has been struggling to cope with stiff competition from its U.S. peers on pricing terms.

"They have a very small domestic market and have always run on very thin margins. The geographic challenge for Air NZ in international competition will never change," said Brad Smoling, managing director at Smoling Stockbroking.

"I think they will continue to find it very challenging in the days ahead."

Air New Zealand said its earnings will also take a hit of NZ$95 million in COVID-related credit breakage for this financial year.

($1 = 1.6964 New Zealand dollars)

(Reporting by Rajasik Mukherjee; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Diane Craft and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)