Air New Zealand board chairwoman Dame Therese Walsh says predictions made about the airline's future in a Covid-19 environment had been confounded.
"We've made a lot of guesses of when things will happen and they've largely been wrong," she said.
Walsh, who became the airline board chairwoman in October last year, said she had confidence in domestic travel and the airline's sustainability.
The impact of Covid-19 on international travel had shifted domestic travel from being about a third of Air New Zealand's revenue to about half of the airline's revenue.
Walsh's comments came after an appearance as guest speaker at a Club Northland event in Whangārei, raising money for Alzheimers Northland.
Walsh said she had no serious concerns about domestic travel collapsing. She said significant preparation had been made should domestic travel restrictions return.
"We think [domestic travel] will continue to [perform well], however, we are prepared for a dip, we are prepared for another lockdown.
"Having a national carrier is incredibly important to having a functioning economy and a functioning society."
Due to the financial hardship inflicted by Covid-19 on Air New Zealand, the airline had let go more than 4000 of its 12,000 staff.
While Walsh said those decisions were extremely difficult for her personally, she said she instead focused on the hardship of her former employees.
"I can't think of it as hard for myself. I can only think about it as hard for people who have lost their jobs so I sort of don't dwell on it," she said.
"It was devastating, heartbreaking. The thing is though, you have to work through it and you have to make the decisions that need to be made."
Asked when international travel might return to normal, Walsh was reluctant to predict exact dates.
"We are focusing on 2021 being when the Pacific Islands and [across the] Tasman are up and running, we are hoping to see some movement with international borders towards the end of 2021."
In March, the Government gave the national airline a $900 million loan to ensure its survival during Covid-19. Walsh said that, as of September, about $110m of the loan had been used. She would not say what had been used since, citing commercial sensitivity.
Walsh said the airline would be looking for investors before June next year for an "injection of capital". She would not be drawn on how much the airline was hoping to receive.
During her speech at McKay Stadium, Walsh was questioned by a member of the roughly 100-person audience about how Air New Zealand would address the price of flights from Whangārei and how cost often forced people to drive to Auckland.
Walsh was vague in responding and after the event said she was unable to commit to any change but understood the concerns of Northlanders.
"We're thinking about pricing all the time, we are thinking about the feedback, we do have a range of fares, we need full planes and all of those factors come into play."
Air New Zealand tourism and regional affairs head Reuben Levermore said despite an increase in the airline's costs over the last four years, such airport landing fees and security, fares had stayed "pretty stable".