Michael Meredith joins Peter Gordon as chef for Air New Zealand

Michael Meredith is renowned for innovation and degustation menus.

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.

Air New Zealand business 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".

Stuff

JOHN EDENS

Last updated 15:57, July 20 2016

Singapore Airlines flies into new territory

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.

Singapore Airlines New Zealand general manager  Simon Turcotte, Photo /  Doug Sherring

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.

Simon Turcotte

• 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

Grant Bradley

Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

 

Nelson Airport experiences record growth after busiest year ever

Nelson Airport CEO Rob Evans wants to see a million passengers pass through the city's terminal next year. 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.

 - Stuff

SALLY KIDSON