Air New Zealand occupies an influential place in the country's corporate landscape. Its brand is hugely admired by loyal customers and it strives to position itself as a fair and progressive employer.

This year the airline again topped a corporate reputation index, a guide which assessed perceptions of social responsibility, trust, fairness and success. For a company reliant on customer relations, it is an enviable spot to retain.

Beyond our shores, or rather our skies, the airline punches above its weight. For five years the carrier has been named Airline Of The Year by the website, which calls Air NZ an "industry trendsetter."

This year, however, the airline has struck turbulence which has affected its precious relationship with customers.


The company could not have anticipated that some of its state-of-the-art Dreamliners would be grounded by faulty engines. At any time, five of the 13 new Boeing 787 aircraft are out of action while their power plants get repaired in Singapore.

This has had knock-on impacts, with the airline having to lease other aircraft to meet bookings. It is pulling out of Vietnam, suspending a Tokyo service and winding back two other routes. Clearly airlines like to grow their business, not contract it, so the service reductions are a measure of how the engine problems are hurting. It comes as no surprise that Air NZ chief executive Christopher Luxon is heading to London for a critical meeting with senior Rolls-Royce managers for assurances regarding the engines.

Before he heads to Britain, Luxon is meeting with airport bosses to speed up terminal upgrades to cope with surging passenger numbers. Travellers want to leave on time, and don't want stress at airports. The airline has done the right thing and fronted with its handful of problems by sending a letter from Luxon to customers outlining the state of play. The company is fortunate that its hard work in fostering good relations with customers will help it through some stormy weather. It will be hoping for clear skies ahead.