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Airlines

UPDATE 1-Air New Zealand defers cash call for second time, aims for Q1 2022

* Government to take part in equity raise at later date

* Airline has drawn NZ$350 mln of NZ$1.5 bln loan facility

* Australia travel bubble suspension will lead to further drawdown (Adds details of New Zealand travel policy, loan facility)

Aug 13 (Reuters) - Air New Zealand Ltd on Friday delayed a planned capital raise for the second time this year, as uncertainty around COVID-19 forced the government to back out of investing at present.

The government has promised to take part in an equity raise at a later date to maintain its majority shareholding in the national flag carrier, Air New Zealand said, pushing back its cash call to the first quarter of 2022 from an earlier target of September.

With the pandemic battering airlines globally, the company earlier this month forecast a bigger annual loss, bracing for a hit from the suspension of a quarantine-free travel arrangement between the archipelago and Australia.

The New Zealand government said on Thursday it plans to allow quarantine-free entry to vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries from early 2022, as it looks to reopen its borders after nearly 18 months of pandemic-induced isolation.

Air New Zealand said on Friday it expects to repay the entire amount drawn under a NZ$1.5 billion loan facility with the government after it is recapitalised.

The company has drawn NZ$350 million to date, it said earlier this month.

Its last withdrawal was in February but the company flagged the need to draw down further funds by the end of August due to the suspension of quarantine-free travel with Australia and planned payments related to aircraft.

A planned interest rate step-up of 1% on the facility after Oct. 29 will no longer apply as part of an agreement with the government, Air New Zealand said on Friday. ($1 = 1.4284 New Zealand dollars) (Reporting by Riya Sharma in Bengaluru and Jamie Freed in Sydney; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Karishma Singh)

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