Air NZ restructures its support package with government

Air New Zealand has restructured its support package with the government, giving it more financial flexibility ahead of its planned capital raise early next year.

The updated package gives the airline a cash reserve it can tap into that isn't entirely debt.

The new agreement would give the national carrier the ability to issue up to $1 billion of non-voting shares to the government, while reducing its existing debt facility from $1.5b to $1b, with an extended term to 2026.

The revised package would raise the overall financial support available to company from $1.5b to $2b.

In a statement to the stock exchange, the company said that since it deferred its planned capital raise in August to the first quarter of next year, it had been adversely affected by the recent lockdowns and the ongoing Covid-related travel restrictions.

"In that context, the airline has been considering its financial support requirements during the period up to a planned equity raising - which the airline is still targeting for the first quarter of 2022 - together with what further support and flexibility may be needed if material and unexpected events were to occur in 2022 such that it becomes prudent to consider a further delay to the planned capital raise," it said.

"While the airline, with the support of the Crown, remains focused on an ordinary equity raise, it is important that the airline has sufficient flexibility to withstand presently unforeseen delays without relying entirely on increasing debt levels."

The new package is structured so Air New Zealand can call for the government to subscribe for up to $1b shares, once it has drawn on $850m from its existing debt facility.

At its annual meeting in October, the company said it had already drawn $450m but expected that to double by February, as it covered the costs of a deferred tax bill and three new planes.

The minimum amount that can be called is $20m.

The proceeds from the money that is raised from the government share offer cannot be used to repay the airline's debt facility.

However, the government is able to seek repayment on the loan to the airline with the proceeds of the airline's planned capital raise.