Air New Zealand's long haul passenger numbers fell 5 per cent last month as the ongoing squeeze in international travel weighs on the national carrier's global trade.

The airline carried 173,000 long-haul passengers in the month of December, down from 182,000 a year earlier, with 3.8 per cent fewer revenue passenger kilometres racked up at 1619 million. Domestic travel buoyed total numbers, which were down 0.6 per cent at 1.3 million.

Domestic traffic crept up 0.3 per cent to 833,000 passengers. Total revenue passenger kilometres fell 1.7 per cent to 2812 million, while capacity, or available seat kilometres, rose 0.4 per cent to 3330 million, and load factor decreased 1.9 percentage points to 84.4 per cent.

Auckland-based Air New Zealand told analysts and investors in November it's aiming for a $110 million profit improvement by 2015 from long-haul flights, which are now an under-performing part of the company.


The airline plans to focus on in-flight products and services, deployment of the new Boeing Dreamliner and cost cutting, including through alliances such as the partnership with Virgin Blue. It is exploring opportunities in new markets in South America, Asia and North America, as well deepening its network into China.

The shares rose 1.2 per cent to 87 cents yesterday.