2016 was a fantastic year for Nelson Airport, with significant growth, record passenger numbers and the introduction of more flights into and out of the region.
Nelson MP Nick Smith today welcomed the Nelson Airport Company’s proposals for redevelopment of the airport, saying it was one of the most important infrastructure issues for the region.
In a first for airlines in the South Pacific, Air New Zealand is giving customers the freedom to use Bluetooth devices ‘gate to gate’ across its entire fleet.
Air New Zealand passengers will be enjoying fine dining meals designed by award-winning chef Michael Meredith as they quaff bubbles. Only if they're flying business s class, though.
As the airline's newest culinary consultant, the Samoa-born chef known for his degustation menus and adventurous approach will design dishes for 'Business Premier' passengers - Air New Zealand's executive class.
"It's a huge privilege to be given the chance to showcase my take on New Zealand cuisine to people from all over the world.
"There's a bit of pressure but I'm also really excited to see what we can do together," Meredith said.
Air New Zealand general manager customer experience Carrie Hurihanganui said Kiwi cuisine was renowned for its fresh, high quality and diverse produce - and its wine.
For many visitors to our country Air New Zealand offers their very first taste of New Zealand and we take this responsibility very seriously.
"Michael will bring a fresh perspective to the table.
"We've long held a farm to plane philosophy where menus are crafted around the best seasonal, fresh produce on offer. Michael has a similar ethos at Meredith's and we're excited to see how he translates his expertise from the restaurant to meals served at altitude".
Last updated 15:57, July 20 2016
Nelson Airport and the coastal suburb of Monaco just got a little bit closer as work to move flight navigation equipment closer to the peninsula nears completion.
Singapore Airlines is counting down to going where no carrier has gone before.
The airline will start its "Capital Express" service in September which will link Wellington, Canberra and Singapore four times a week.
It will be the first time the two Australasian cities have been linked by direct flights and the first ever international services out of Canberra.
Driving the project from New Zealand is Simon Turcotte who arrived as country general manager late last year.
"We've done our sums and we looked at it for many years. I think at this point of time the figures add up - it makes sense for us to do it and there's possibility to do it on a profitable basis and now is the time to make that investment and give it a go.'
The airline will use a 266-seat retrofitted Boeing 777-200 aircraft, with 38 business class seats and 228 economy class seats.
The 35-year-old - who studied finance at university - says the Capital Express is part of a strategy of investing heavily in New Zealand and Australia.
"As a network carrier we're always looking out for opportunities and studying options world wide - we see Southwest Pacific as a key part of our network," he said.
The airline established a joint venture with Air New Zealand in early 2015 which means double daily services between Auckland and Singapore. During summer it uses an Airbus A380 on the route to increase capacity. It also flies daily to Christchurch and when it starts its Wellington service it will be the first non-Tasman carrier to serve three New Zealand cities.
is still in talks with Air New Zealand about a possible code share arrangement out Wellington.
Turcotte said it was expected that much of the traffic would be northbound to Singapore and beyond but there were certain market segments - corporates, politicians diplomats - which would be interested in flying between Canberra and Wellington.
There was also scope to develop a market for leisure travellers and the airline was working with tourism authorities in the Australian capital.
In Wellington, Singapore Airlines was building a team of 11 staff.
We've definately maintained that first class service out of Auckland we still feel there's a market for that and we're keen to serve that.
Its performance is seen as an indicator of the health of Asia's airline industry and in May it reported its full-year profit grew 66 per cent to S$804 million (NZ$832 million) mainly because of lower oil prices. The airline did warn of challenging conditions ahead caused by weak economic activity and rapid increases in capacity across the industy, leading to lower fares.
Turcotte said competition was nothing new to his airline.
"Historically Singapore has been developed as a transportation hub - we've always faced competition in our home market.''
Singapore Airlines has stuck with first class cabins on many of its aircraft and that market was holding up, he said.
"We've definately maintained that first class service out of Auckland we still feel there's a market for that and we're keen to serve that," he said.
"If you look at the floor space on the aircraft that's dedicated to the front cabin it's been expanded year on year - the market is there.'
Turcotte said as a child he had wanted to be a pilot but took a different path and studied for a commercial career.
• Singapore Airlines NZ general manager
• Age: 35
• Born in Montreal, Canada
• Has worked at Singapore Airlines for nine years including in revenue management at the airline's Singapore base and postings to India and most recently Spain where he was country general manager.
Tuesday, 05 July 2016
Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald
Nelson Airport has experienced its busiest year ever with further growth predicted.
A record 865,023 passengers flew in and out of the terminal in the year to June, up 16 per cent from the 750,000 passengers last year.
Airport chief executive Rob Evans said the growth was"extraordinary".
"Once you start talking in millions it is pretty significant numbers. Our personal target for next year is a million passengers."
The growth was also remarkable as it had all occurred in the six months from December when Jetstar started flying out of Nelson.
Evans said the increase was not solely due to Jetstar and other start-up airlines including Kiwi Regional Airlines (KRA) had also played a role.
KRA was probably contributed 25,000 passengers a year and was starting to make an impact, before folding last month, he said.
Jetstar's arrival had led to competition between it and Air New Zealand. The Nelson to Auckland route had grown by 25 per cent alone and the Wellington to Nelson route by 15 per cent.
"What we've been really pleased to see is that both airlines have been really successful through a very buoyant summer and shoulder season.
"It's demonstrated the opportunities for Nelson through the likes of Auckland and Wellington where the growth has been extraordinary."
There are now 480 flights in and out of Nelson a week.
The expansion in passenger numbers had also corresponded with an overall growth in domestic and international tourism.
Evans acknowledged the unprecedented growth in the last six months had put strain on airport infrastructure including the carpark.
Some interim changes to carparking were planned.
The airport would also be installing an extra exit barrier to help reduce congestion from people trying to get out of the carpark.
It would also be laying gravel on 200 overflow spaces on the grass to improve that area.
Long term improvements would be part of an "exciting" new terminal redevelopment he hoped to publicly announce in the next month or so.
Overall Evans said his small team had coped well to deal with the unplanned growth.
"Our business plan did not contain 30 per cent growth, so we've reacted really well. We've done really well and we have these exciting new infrastructure plans for the future."
He believed the growth at the airport was sustainable.
"It will always continue to grow because it is a popular destination with a high proportion of people who like to travel with a good tourism product with lots of opportunity to grow."
Owner of the Nelson branch of New Zealand Rentacar Terry Simpson said that his business turnover had increased by a third since the introduction of Jetstar, Kiwi Regional Airlines and Originair last year.
"We're seeing a lot more Kiwis coming to Nelson, especially at this time of year, from Auckland and Wellington - it seems to be rubbing off on the other restaurants and retailers in town too.
"To be fair Air New Zealand has been holding us to ransom for some time now," he said.
"There is definitely that (seasonal) difference but it's becoming busier on the whole and I have to put that down to Jetstar because they're bringing people here that wouldn't normally come to Nelson."
Uniquely Nelson manager Simon Duffy said the increase in airline passengers had been good for retailers and hospitality businesses in the CBD.
Tourism figures show the tourism spend for Nelson for the year to May was $295 million, up 9 per cent for the previous year.
In the Tasman region the tourism spend for the year to May was $263 million up 5 per cent.
Last updated 17:46, July 8 2016
OPINION: Air New Zealand celebrated a milestone last week when we landed a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner at Wellington Airport.
Having the Dreamliner on the tarmac at Wellington prompted enquiries about whether we were trying to make a subtle point about the proposed Wellington Airport runway extension.
Our position on the runway extension isn't that subtle, it is very clear. The problem with flying long haul from Wellington isn't the length of the runway.
The problem is the size of the local travel market, there are simply not enough travellers from the Wellington region or even the lower North Island to sustain regular direct services to any of our long haul destinations; certainly not enough to justify the tremendous investment in infrastructure and the millions of dollars of on-going cost required to support them.
That is why – regardless of the length of the runway - we won't operate long haul services out of Wellington. The numbers just don't stack up relative to the costs involved in addressing the perceived problem.
Wellington has better air links to the world than it has ever had. It is close to two large, competitive aviation hubs and from September will have a new way to Singapore through Canberra on our alliance partner Singapore Airlines.
Air New Zealand is committed to supporting that service, but there is a good reason it's travelling via Canberra – Singapore Airlines knows the passenger flows out of Wellington can't sustain a direct service.
Despite the reticence expressed by ourselves and all other airlines, Wellington Airport is pushing ahead with its runway extension project.
The reason for this is simple. Even if no new services are attracted, and even if it is paid for from the public purse, the airport will be able to recover the cost of the runway extension through landing fees from existing users and airlines.
The airport will make money under any circumstance, while existing airlines and travellers will be forced to pay.
It's not for us to tell Wellingtonians how their rates should be spent. But, it is important to understand these dynamics to properly understand why the airport company is so keen, and airlines are so cautious, on the runway extension.
All the while, Air New Zealand continues to invest in Wellington. We work to promote Wellington as a visitor destination and we proudly support signature local events like WOW and Wellington on a Plate.
We will operate 150,000 more seats into Wellington this year and in September we will open a new regional lounge in the new-look Wellington terminal.
Air New Zealand remains committed to promoting Wellington as an excellent visitor destination and connecting it to the world.
Richard Thomson is Air New Zealand's general manager of networks.
*comments are closed
Last updated 05:00, July 8 2016