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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - Air New Zealand says its long-distance international flights are profitable again for the first time since the global financial slowdown began.

The national carrier announced Thursday its half-year profits before tax had tripled to 139 million New Zealand dollars ($116 million). After-tax profits were 100 million New Zealand dollars ($83 million). It announced a dividend of 3 New Zealand cents per share, up from 2 cents last year.

Chief Executive Christopher Luxon said in statement demand is up on domestic routes despite a sluggish economic recovery. He said the long-haul international business returned to the black after changes to its network of flights and improvements in its sales execution.

The company predicts its full-year profits will "comfortably exceed" last year's after-tax profit of 71 million New Zealand dollars ($59 million).

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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