Air New Zealand has forecast a 20 per cent rise in pre-tax profit for the first half as solid bookings in the lead-up to the busy Christmas-New Year holiday period bolster its confidence.

Days after Qantas warned it would slump to a pre-tax loss of up to $300 million in the first half, New Zealand's flag carrier said it had ''sufficient confidence'' in its expected bookings this month to forecast a 20 per cent rise in earnings before tax to $NZ167 million ($152 million) for the six months to December.