Air NZ flies direct to Vietnam

Air New Zealand has completed its first direct flight to Vietnam.

The plane left Auckland yesterday afternoon, and arrived in Ho Chi Min City at 8pm local time, just over 12 hours later.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce was on board with Vietnam's Ambassador to New Zealand, Viet Dung Nguyen.

The Vietnam route extends the airline's total number of international destinations to 30.

NZ Herald

Sunday, 05 June 2016

New flights are a response to growth

Air New Zealand has announced it will operate up to 10 new weekly flights between Auckland and Tauranga by the end of the year. The airline is also reinstating the 6.05 am service from Tauranga to Christchurch.

Air New Zealand described the region as a "significant growth market" and said it would operate up to 80,000 additional seats to and from Tauranga in 2017.

Tourism BOP chief executive Kristin Dunne said she was thrilled with the news.

"Any increase in access to the city and the region is fantastic," she said. "This is very positive from our perspective. Air NZ is absolutely seeing the value in our region."

Tauranga Airport, Tauranga City Council and Tourism Bay of Plenty had regular meetings with the airline and were always discussing how to improve services, said Ms Dunne.

JetStar decided last year not to add Tauranga to its new regional offering. But Ms Dunne said she did not think that had a major bearing on Air New Zealand's latest announcement.

"This is a demonstration of the fact they are very positive about the growth in the region and how significant it is for them."

Tauranga Airport manager Ray Dumble said the decision was good news, especially for the business community. Details of the timing of the new flights were not yet available, but they would include adding an extra flight before 9am, bringing the total to two, and were also expected to fill a couple of holes in the afternoon schedule.

"The Auckland flights, in particular, will give people a real choice as they can now do either a full or a half day up there," he said. "That's a biggie. It's becoming a bus service and that's what the business community wants."

Stan Gregec.

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stan Gregec said it was welcome news for the business community. "Especially the reinstatement of the early Christchurch flight. We're pleased to see Air New Zealand responding to demand and adding more options for the travelling public and business people," he said.

"Keeping fares competitive and schedules convenient for business travellers should translate into benefits for everyone."

In its announcement, which includes changes to other regional services, Air New Zealand said it was making the adjustments as a result of feedback on the revised domestic schedule it issued earlier this year.

"The new schedules have been generally well received by customers, although a couple of communities raised concerns around new peak business flight timings," said general manager networks Richard Thomson.

"A strength of our business is the emphasis we place on consultation and responding to customer feedback. While the response to the new schedule was very positive we have listened carefully to stakeholder and customer feedback and we're pleased to have been able to overcome some key challenges identified in the following communities."

More flights:

* Air New Zealand is expected to launch its new Tauranga schedule as of October 31, 2016.

Thursday, 02 June 2016

NZ Herald

By David Porter

Sounds Air could fill gap left by Air New Zealand after national carriers drops Blenheim-Christchurch flights

A Sounds Air Cessna Caravan on the tarmac at Marlborough Airport, beside a Beechcraft 1900D that Air New Zealand ... Marlborough airline Sounds Air could pick up the slack after the national carrier announced it was ending flights between Blenheim and Christchurch.

Air New Zealand announced on Monday it was pulling out of its Blenheim-Christchurch and Auckland-Whanganui routes because of a lack of demand.

Sounds Air managing director Andrew Crawford said the privately-owned airline was exploring taking up the Blenheim-Christchurch route, which he said would operate at least twice daily.

The airline, which had a fleet of Cessna Caravans and Pilatus PC12s, had taken over other regional routes abandoned by Air New Zealand, including those between Westport and Taupo to Wellington.

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said he was disappointed and frustrated by the national carrier's decision.

"Now that Air New Zealand has left this vacuum I would anticipate our successful local operator Sounds Air might see the opportunity here so let's wait and see what happens," he said.

An Air New Zealand spokesperson said when the direct service ended on July 31, the quickest flight time via Wellington would be 90 minutes and the cheapest fare would remain the same at $59.

The reason the airline pulled the routes was because of a lack of demand, however it had been criticised for not waiting longer to see if demand would pick up on its larger planes.

The Blenheim-Christchurch route had been serviced by Beechcraft 1900D aircraft, however these were replaced by 50-seater Bombardier Q300s in early May.

Marlborough Airport chief executive Dean Heiford said he was disappointed the carrier had made the announcement so soon after switching to the larger planes.

"I'm disappointed they didn't give us a bit more of a chance to build capacity, but I understand it's an economic decision," he said.

The spokeswoman said the 50-seat services had been available to book for more than a year and the airline had dropped lead-in fare prices by 40 per cent to reflect the increased capacity.

But there had only been an increase of around two to three people per day, she said.

"Forward bookings on this route are not strong enough to sustain a viable service."

Staff at PC Media, in Blenheim, used the service at least once a week for business.

Technical director Lee Harper said the airline had not waited long enough to see if demand would pick up.

"It was three weeks in the middle of winter with barely any promotion," he said.

The times for business people travelling from Blenheim were good, but hardly anyone used the 6.10am departure time from Christchurch, he said.

It would be too difficult to get from Blenheim to Christchurch via Wellington by 9am, so Harper said staff would have to drive and stay overnight in the city.

Marlborough Tour Company managing director Chris Godsiff said the flight schedule had contributed to the lack of demand which caused the service to close.

"The flights that Air New Zealand put on weren't particularly user-friendly, they were pretty cranky times," he said.

International visitors coming to Blenheim might be put off by having to get two flights, he said.

"It's got to be a deterrent, because the last thing you want to do when you get to New Zealand is get another two flights, one is bad enough."

Sowman said the timing of the announcement was frustrating because the top of the South was expecting more Chinese visitors.

Destination Marlborough general manager Tracy Johnston said the news was disappointing but around 80 per cent of international visitors arrived in New Zealand through Auckland Airport.

Blenheim had good connectivity with Auckland, so she did not think cutting the Blenheim-Christchurch link would impact the number of overseas tourists coming to Marlborough.

 - The Marlborough Express





Under threat of trespass, Uber close to deal with Wellington Airport

Wellington Airport's international passenger terminal.  

Wellington Airport is close to reaching a deal to allow Uber drivers to pick up passengers, which could change the payment terms for all taxi services to the airport.

Currently Uber, a private hire service where passengers order cars on mobile phones, is not meant to pick up passengers from the airport, as doing so avoids paying the $5 fee faced by regular taxis.

Steve Sanderson, chief executive of Wellington Airport has threatened to trespass drivers who breach the rules

Uber drivers have been using the drop off area at Wellington Airport to pick up passengers without paying a fee to the ...


It was only fair that Uber paid the same as taxis, as they were operating a commercial business on private property, Sanderson said.

"We want all operators who operate transport services out of the airport to all be on a level playing field," Sanderson said, adding that he expected to secure an agreement within Uber within a month.

"Taxis and Uber will pay the same amount."

While currently taxis are only charged fees for picking up passengers at the airport, Sanderson confirmed that this could be replaced with a split between pick-ups and drop-offs.

"We are looking at other options of making the fees in the airport more equal to arrivals and departures."

So far no Uber drivers has been trespassed from the airport, and Sanderson believed that Uber drivers were now complying with the rules.

"They understand they are operating on a private property and they've certainly told all their drivers they're not allowed to pick up at the airport, and our experience is that's being adhered to now."

Any driver who was trespassed would face needing the express permission of the airport's chief executive if they ever wanted to enter the property, including to catch a flight.

The airport's jurisdiction typically extends to those passing through the security gates at the entrance to the car park.

But one airport source noted that the Z Energy service station just outside the airport - a walk of only around two minutes from terminal entrance - was also on land owned by the airport.

Should it become an unofficial Uber hub the airport could also threaten Uber with trespass there.

Uber declined to comment. The company is also in negotiations with Auckland and Christchurch airports.

A spokesman for Auckland Airport said that while the company "welcomed Uber coming on board" to increase choice, it needed to ensure it did so on an even playing field, including in terms of New Zealand Transport Authority regulations. A deal is not expected in the immediate future.

"We'll continue to talk to Uber about their potential to operate from the airport."

Taxi Federation acting executive director Tim Reddish said Uber and other similar services should pay the same as taxis, and this should also take into account the money taxis paid to wait outside the baggage reclaim area.

"Any deal struck with Uber has to be on an even playing field basis," Reddish said.

"The taxi companies that have a presence at the airport tender significant money for that, and that determines that Uber should be paying the same sort of money."

 - Stuff


Air NZ cancels Auckland-Whanganui, Christchurch-Blenheim regional flights

Air New Zealand is stopping some loss-making regional flights.  

A lack of demand is forcing Air New Zealand to end regional flights between Auckland and Whanganui, and between Christchurch and Blenheim.

The national carrier said on Monday that both loss-making routes would stop from July 31 as "unfortunately ... [these] services do not have sufficient passenger demand to sustain a 50-seat aircraft service, despite the continued efforts of Air New Zealand and local stakeholders".

In November 2014 Air New Zealand said it would retire its loss-making 19-seat Beech aircraft fleet in favour of the larger and more economically viable 50-seat Q300 aircraft in regional centres where if felt there was enough demand.

While some regional routes were cancelled then, the airline noted on Monday that, over the past year, it had added nearly 250,000 extra seats to regional services and would add another 400,000 in the next year.

General manager of networks, Richard Thomson, said Air New Zealand looked closely at the Whanganui – Auckland service when the regional network was reviewed in 2014.

"While the service was marginal at that time we believed it was worth taking a chance on Whanganui and working with the local community in an effort to stimulate demand.

"Unfortunately the market dynamics have changed markedly since then as a result of competition entering nearby Palmerston North just 70 kilometres away. The greater number of destinations, higher frequency of service and wider range of connecting options on offer at the neighbouring airport have unfortunately served to undermine demand for Whanganui services and we've seen customers effectively voting with their feet and using Palmerston North rather than Whanganui Airport.

"Despite almost halving the average fare on this route we've been unable to create sufficient additional passenger volume to sustain an ongoing service and unfortunately this means we will cease operating to Whanganui."

Air New Zealand said while the Christchurch-Blenheim service would also end, it planned to boosts seats between Blenheim and Auckland and Wellington.

Customers booked to travel on suspended services past July 31 would be able to get a refund or choose a different airport to fly from.


Last updated 17:58, May 30 2016

Kiwi Regional back in the air after four day mechanical delay

A Kiwi Regional Airlines Saab 340 aircraft comes into land at Nelson Airport. The airline is back in the air after a ...  

Kiwi Regional Airlines staff are mending fences with passengers after a small mechanical fault on Sunday led to a four-day wait for a replacement part for their only plane.

The SAAB340A plane was grounded in Dunedin on Sunday after the engine fault grounded the scheduled 11am flight to Hamilton via Nelson.

The replacement part had to be sourced from Australia, however due to the supplier being unable to provide the part, the search for an alternative took them to the United States.

An anticipated two day delay extended to yesterday morning when service was finally resumed. A total of 250 passengers on 12 scheduled flights were affected.

Some customers, including several from Nelson, expressed their frustrations to the airline directly or through social media at loss of the service. One Nelson woman, who did not want to be named, said the airline had not been helpful finding alternative flights.

Kiwi Regional's reservations manager Dave MacPherson said it took "three days to get the part, one hour to inspect it and half an hour to fit it".

MacPherson said the airline had sought to offer assistance in the wake of the cancellations with offices staying open until 11pm on most evenings to offer refunds or coordinate alternative transport.

However, he appreciated that given the situation some passengers had fallen through the cracks or made their own arrangements.

"There are things we could have done a bit better and certainly we will take plenty out of this," said MacPherson.

"Obviously making people get off in the freezing rain (in Dunedin)  isn't ideal and with a bitter southerly to battle against some passengers didn't hang around – we want to help those people.

He added that Kiwi Regional was continuing to track down the few remaining passengers affected, and stressed that anyone who had not already done so should get in touch so that they could resolve their issue directly or discuss possible reimbursement.

The idea of raising $2 million for additional aircraft through a crowd funded shareholder initiative remained a long-term objective, although the legislative side of things was still to be finalised.

"It is still on the cards but I can't see it happening in the next month," said MacPherson.

The problems of having one plane also surfaced in February, when the airline cancelled flights after grounding the aircraft for unscheduled maintenance.



New Zealand composer lands in Nelson

Gareth Farr arrives at Nelson airport for Sleeping with the Steinway. Acclaimed New Zealand composer Gareth Farr arrived at Nelson airport yesterday to lend a hand to the Nelson School of Music's all-night fundraiser, Sleeping with the Steinway.

Farr has composed a piece especially for the pianothon which will be performed with help from NSOM youth.

Sleeping with the Steinway creative director Sarah Lewis said she was excited to have Farr come to Nelson for the event.

Gareth Farr arrives at Nelson airport for Sleeping with the Steinway.

"It's incredible. He's composed and gifted this piece to us."

He has worked with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Royal New Zealand Ballet as well as being named an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to music and entertainment.

Farr was greeted at the airport with helium balloons and a convoy of Harley Davidson motorcycles to accompany the Mercedes that picked him up.

Gareth Farr leaving Nelson airport in style, met by a silver Mercedes convertible and three Harley Davidson motorbikes ...


He said he felt "very pampered" and had never been involved in an event like this before.

"There's just this excitement about the fact that it's an event, it's something monumental and also no one is brave enough to do something like this which makes it all the more exciting."

The piece Farr has composed, "Ripple Effect", will be played near midnight.

Gareth Farr arrives at Nelson airport for Sleeping with the Steinway.


"It's a new work, composition, I tell you the really exciting thing about it for me is that it's for young performers," he said.

"I'm really very lucky, I get to write for some of the best performers in the world and I can just send it to them and demand excellence and they will play it perfectly but there's something about youthful enthusiasm."

Performers on the night should not feel pressured by Farr's presence.

"I've written for young performers, I've written for youth orchestras and sometimes they play a wrong note or two - I don't care," he said.

"I mean when I perform I play wrong notes all over the place. It's about the enthusiasm and the excitement and wanting to play the piece and being nervous about it, nerves are good. Nerves mean excitement and anticipation."

Sleeping with the Steinway begins on Saturday at 5pm and ends on Sunday at 3pm.

 - Stuff


Wellington Airport profit rises 29pc

Wellington International Airport, which is 66 per cent owned by investment group Infratil, posted a 29 per cent gain in full-year profit as growth in international passenger volumes drove revenue.

Profit rose to $12.5 million in the 12 months ended March 31, from about $9.7 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Sales gained 4.8 per cent to $113.5 million.

International passenger volumes rose 16 per cent to 897,316 last year while domestic gained 4.6 per cent to about 4.9 million. The airport company agreed five new international services from Jetstar, Fiji Airways and Qantas Airways, adding 160,000 seats and it anticipates a further 110,000 seats when Singapore Airlines begins a Boeing 777 service linking Wellington with Canberra and Singapore in September. Domestic volumes were lifted by new Jetstar routes, expanded capacity from Air New Zealand and a contribution from Sounds Air, it said.

Last month the company lodged an application to extend its runway with the Wellington City Council and the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

The airport is seeking permission to build a 350-metre runway extension in a bid to attract long-haul flights from Asia and the United States, at a cost of $300 million.

Infratil argues that central and local government should foot most of the bill because the investment is in the national and regional interest while not being viable on a standalone commercial basis. Wellington City Council owns the other 33 per cent of the airport.

Capital development already underway includes a $65 million expansion of the domestic terminal and a $70 million transport hub, a Rydges hotel and in the longer term, a $60 million expansion of the international terminal.

Aircraft movement and terminal charges made up the biggest share of annual revenue, rising 5.1 per cent to $65.9 million. Retail and trading activities contributed $35.7 million, up 4.9 per cent, and property rent and lease income rose 2.8 per cent to $11.8 million.

The airport paid a dividend of about $13 million to the city council and a subvention payment of $39.5 million on Infratil.

By Jonathan Underhill


Friday, 20 May 2016

Business class fares slashed to Hong Kong

Hong Kong Airlines is promising a fare shakeup on the popular route connecting the Chinese city to Auckland and slashed business class fares.

The airline will start daily services to Auckland on November 10 and while incumbent rival Cathay Pacific is offering cheaper economy fares around the time, Hong Kong Air is offering fares less than half that of rival airlines on the route.

While Cathay and Air New Zealand, which also flies daily on the route, charge around $5800 for return business class fares, Hong Kong Airline' business class fares start around $2204, a price Flight Centre says will be "incredibly attractive."

Air New Zealand's best economy fare leaving November 10 and returning a week later is $1342.

Flight Centre's general manager product Sean Berenson said fares on the route were likely to be dynamic with incumbents responding to make sure customers get some great deals.

"It's certainly been an interesting start - that business class would be incredibly attractive for customers."

Hong Kong Airlines assistant director commercial Michael Burke said the best way to establish itself in New Zealand was through attractive pricing.

"We've certainly been an interesting start - that business class would be incredibly

Most of its passengers would be mainland Chinese heading to New Zealand on holiday but Kiwis travelling northbound would be an important part of the mix.

"We very much intend to find our place in the market and that inevitably will be through quite keen pricing - we need people to try us."

The full-service airline daily services will use an Airbus A330 aircraft with 283 seats, including 24 lie-flat business class seats.

It had been considering the Auckland route for the past three years and it would be the decade-old airline's longest route.

New Zealand is on fire as a market and we wanted to join the party. It was an obvious one in that regard.

Hong Kong Airlines assistant director commercial Michael Burke

Hong Kong Airlines is the eighth new carrier to launch or announce services to New Zealand in the past year where there have been 19 new routes established. Airlines have benefited from relatively low fuel prices in the past 18 months, have replaced older less efficient planes with new aircraft and are targeting record numbers of tourists wanting to fly to New Zealand and Kiwis travelling overseas at unprecedented levels.

"New Zealand is on fire as a market and we wanted to join the party. It was an obvious one in that regard."

China is New Zealand's fastest growing inbound tourist market and the airline saw no let up in the growth of Chinese tourism to this country.

Burke said he had much respect for Air New Zealand and its Hong Kong-based rival Cathay Pacific which has has been flying to New Zealand from the city for 33 years

Cathay's country manager for New Zealand & Pacific Islands Mark Pirihi said during that time we have seen a number of airlines arrive in New Zealand which no longer fly here.

"As a premium airline Cathay Pacific faces growing competition. Competition is healthy in all industries and our focus as a premium airline is in keeping our product innovative and our service delivery."

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Air New Zealand plans more Nelson-Auckland seats

Sarah Williamson checks out a new ATR72-600 aircraft, built for Air New Zealand, near Toulouse, in France. Capacity on Air New Zealand flights between Nelson and Auckland is tipped to increase by 8 per cent in the 12 months from October.

Air New Zealand regional airlines general manager Sarah Williamson said a new schedule was due to be introduced in October, which would include swapping some 50-seat Q300 aircraft for 68-seat ATR72 planes, increasing capacity on the route by about 8 per cent.

"That 8 per cent will be over the next 12 months but the most significant part of that change is October," Williamson said from Toulouse in France where Air New Zealand took delivery of a new ATR72-600 aircraft.

When asked if the increased capacity was in reaction to greater competition on the route from other airlines, Williamson said no.

Air NZ had looked at sectors with the potential for growth.

"So when we moved, for instance, from the [19-seat] Beech to the Q300, we looked at sectors that we thought would grow and we transitioned the 19-seater on to the 50 seater," she said. "The nice thing about that is that you have the same level of frequency but you all of a sudden have additional seats in the marketplace.

"We're working hard to put on additional capacity where we think there's the potential for that additional capacity to sell and the Nelson-Auckland market is one of those markets."

Nelson had some unique features.

"It's at the top of the South Island so to get anywhere north, you have to fly or take a boat so I think that means that Nelsonians are probably much more likely to fly than you might find in other parts of New Zealand," Williamson said. "There are probably people who live in Nelson because it's such a great place to live and commute to other places to work so there's probably a bit of a commuter set of people as well."

Nelson was important to Air NZ. As well as a growing area, it was home to the company's Regional Maintenance base and Air Nelson, which operates the Q300 aircraft.

 - Stuff



Air NZ keen to fly high with new ATR aircraft

Air New Zealand has taken delivery of the 12th aircraft in a planned fleet of 29 new ATR planes aimed at boosting its regional network. The newly built 68-seat ATR72-600 was handed over during a ceremony on the outskirts of the city of Toulouse, in south-west France last week. The airline's 13th aircraft in the series stood alongside – almost ready to be handed over as well.

After accepting the new plane from ATR senior vice-president operations Thierry Casale, Air NZ regional airlines general manager Sarah Williamson said it was expected to be 2020 when Air NZ took delivery of the 29th planned new ATR72-600, which was set to make the airline the owner of the third largest ATR fleet in the world. No.1 is Lion Air in Indonesia, followed by Denmark-based Nordic Aviation Capital.

Air New Zealand regional airlines general manager Sarah Williamson looks over the company's new ATR72-600 aircraft in ...


"We're very pleased to take delivery of our 12th aircraft," Williamson said. "We look forward to a long and ongoing association with ATR."

The additional aircraft for Air NZ's regional services meant "more seats for customers and certainly more seats at the lead-in fares".

Williamson said the typical sector in New Zealand was about an hour long, which was well suited to a turboprop – an aircraft with a turbine engine that drives propellers. ATR's 68-seat aircraft was "excellent" for Air NZ's needs "and we like the way ATR have worked hard on green credentials so that the aircraft is very efficient in terms of fuel, which means it burns less CO2".

Sarah Williamson and Andrew Ward take delivery of a newly built 68-seat ATR72-600 aircraft.


Air NZ subsidiary Mt Cook Airline operates the ATR aircraft. Its head, former pilot Andrew Ward, said the ATR72-600 was a high-spec turboprop. In an upgrade of the ATR72-500, the 600 version also had a "full glass cockpit" featuring five screens of digital flight instrument displays as well as electronic maps and charts that were usually available only in the larger Airbus aircraft, Ward said.

In November, Air NZ announced it would buy 15 ATR72-600 aircraft. At list prices, the 15 new aircraft were collectively valued at $US375 million ($550m). Eleven of the aircraft were to replace the national carrier's ATR72-500 planes while the other four would help increase capacity on its growing regional network. The move to buy 15 new ATR 600s came after the company in 2012 announced its investment in an initial 14 ATR72-600 aircraft.

Williamson said the ATR72-500 aircraft would be sold. It follows a decision by Air NZ to phase out its 19-seat Beech 1900D aircraft – the smallest in its fleet. The Beech aircraft would also be sold, Williamson said.

Air NZ had also spent $1m refurbishing the interiors of its 23 Bombardier Q300s, which would continue to fly routes on its regional network, including Nelson-Wellington and Nelson-Christchurch.

In the 2016 financial year, Air NZ was on track to operate 5.9 million seats into and out of regional centres, a spokeswoman said. It had also offered more than 100,000 fares for less than $50 on its regional network.

"In FY17, we will further increase regional capacity by approximately 3 per cent," she said. "Increasing capacity results in even more low-priced fares as we have to build and further stimulate the demand required to fill these extra seats."

The multimillion-dollar investment in the ATR aircraft comes as competitors, such as Jetstar, boost their domestic routes.

Based on the outskirts of Toulouse, ATR is a joint partnership between Airbus and Finmeccanica, two major European aeronautics companies. Established in 1981, ATR had a turnover of $US2 billion in 2015.

The writer flew to France courtesy of Air New Zealand.

 - Stuff


Putting the remote in the control tower

The world's airlines have ambitious plans to double the fleet of commercial jets during the next two decades. The trouble: there won't be enough controllers to help those 44,000 planes take off and land safely.

A shortage of air traffic controllers may rein in expansion by the aviation industry and economic development by emerging nations such as India, which wants to activate hundreds of largely unused runways to spur growth. There is a potential solution, and it resembles a video gamer's dream — a wall of big-screen TVs and a few tablet computers controlled by a stylus.

Some airports are now testing "remote towers" from Saab AB and Thales SA that allow controllers sitting hundreds of kilometres away to monitor operations through high-definition cameras and sensors. The technology is sensitive enough to penetrate fog and detect wild animals on runways, and the companies say it is also cheaper than hiring people to fill vacancies at smaller or remote airports.

"It's a potential game-changer," says Neil Hansford, chairman of Strategic Aviation Solutions, a consultancy firm north of Sydney. "There's a shortage. As you go to more and more airports, it's going to exacerbate the problem."

And plans are moving apace for more and more airports. Worldwide, projects to redevelop or build new airfields surpass US$900 billion, according to the CAPA Centre for Aviation, a Sydney-based consultancy.

By 2030, the world will need another 40,000 air traffic controllers to handle those flights, according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation. Yet, there are so few training facilities in Asia, the fastest-growing travel market, that the region will have a deficit of more than 1000 controllers each year, says ICAO.

Partly because of that, the US Federal Aviation Administration downgraded India's aviation safety rating in 2014 and Thailand's last year. The agency said neither country's civil aviation authority was up to scratch and barred their airlines from offering new services to the US. After India addressed the FAA's safety concerns, its rating was restored last year.

Companies such as Stockholm-based Saab and Paris-based Thales can install towers loaded with cameras and sensors covering 360 degrees overlooking runways to beam high-definition video and sound to a distant control centre. One controller can manage several airports remotely.

"We can see a huge interest from all continents," says Dan-Aake Enstedt, Saab's Asia-Pacific manager. "This lets you operate an airport that might otherwise be too expensive to keep open, or help to smooth the flow of traffic around major airports as they expand."

Saab's system resembles an immersive Imax theatre. A bank of screens on the wall gives the impression of looking out the window onto a remote airfield, with radar blips tracked on a desktop monitor and flights managed by oversized tablet computers that respond to a stylus. Graphics pop up on the screens, and the controller can manoeuvre a zoom camera to take a closer look at the runways or the planes if an anomaly warning sounds.

The technology guides planes into central Sweden's Ornskoldsvik Airport, with controllers monitoring from more than 100km away at Sundsvall-Timra Airport. It was the first remote system installed in the world.

Australia tested Saab's remote tower in Alice Springs. The airport was run from a control tower 1500km to the south in Adelaide. Airservices Australia, the government entity that employs more than 1000 controllers, says it is considering "further evaluation and potential deployment of this type of technology." Thales rolled out its competing version, including night-vision cameras, last month at the air-traffic industry's annual congress in Madrid. The system also is appropriate for war zones and "previously 'unjustifiable' sites," the company says.

Saab senses opportunity in India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi's plan to bolster the economy includes reviving remote airstrips to increase passenger and cargo traffic, says Varun Vijay Singh, marketing director for air traffic management at Saab's Indian business.

Only 75 of India's 476 airports — just 16 per cent — attract scheduled flights. Boeing predicts Indian carriers will need 1740 new aircraft during the next 20 years. Someone has to help land them, Saab's Singh says.

"It's a tremendous opportunity."


Aviation plan offers big savings

Aviation stands to save $2 billion over the next 20 years by replacing ageing air traffic management systems with modern technology, says New Southern Sky director Steve Smyth.

Ground-based radar technology now used to manage traffic dates from just after WWII, and the New Southern Sky programme will see it replaced with extensive satellite tracking.

Smyth says the changes echo a similar technology switch elsewhere in the world. "It's all about delivering economic and environmental benefits. We'll see shorter, more direct journeys and a faster turnaround of aircraft. This will reduce the amount of CO2 generated by the industry and the change will pay off in terms of fuel savings, lower operating costs for airlines and less capital investment tied up in aircraft."

We'll see shorter, more direct journeys and a faster turnaround of aircraft.

Steve Smyth, New Southern Sky.
In many cases, flying more direct routes could mean more noise for people living under flight paths, but Smyth says this is offset by quieter planes than in the past.

He says a recent 22-week study looked at international flights taking a more direct northern approach route into Auckland airport. "The result of the changed flightpath meant 720,000kg less CO2 was dumped into the atmosphere", he says.

In addition to more direct flights, the new system will link airports to each other. That way, flights can be better timed to reduce the number of planes waiting in costly and environmentally damaging holding patterns above cities as they wait for a landing slot.

It's not just pilots, Smyth says. Baggage handlers, engineers, cleaners and catering staff will all have access to better information so they can become more efficient.

He says the crew on a plane leaving Heathrow in London will have up-to-date information on conditions at Auckland before takeoff and will get updates en route. A pilot will know well in advance what wind conditions to expect and if there is, say, volcano activity.

New Southern Sky will take 10 years to implement the National Airspace and Air Navigation Plan, approved by Cabinet in 2014.

A conference at Auckland Airport will check progress on the New Southern Sky project. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Next month a conference at Auckland Airport will review progress after the first two-year stage of the project. Aviation sector companies will attend, as well as staff from Martin Jetpack and Rocketlabs. The rocket company is there because the new systems will manage airspace all the way to the edge of the atmosphere.Smyth says one subject for discussion will be how to fit drones and unmanned aircraft into flight patterns. He says drones are already being widely used, and expects unmanned cargo planes could take to the skies before the project is completed in eight years.

While New Southern Sky is a New Zealand project, Smyth says there are many similar initiatives underway elsewhere. "Many of the challenges are the same everywhere. We'll have speakers coming to our conference from the UK and the US. We differ in terms of size and scale, that gives us the ability to be more agile. Here we have the ability to test systems, that's not always the case overseas."

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Herald NZ

Bill Bennett

New airline enters Kiwi market

Hong Kong Airlines will start daily services to Auckland in November, the latest in a growing number of carriers to serve New Zealand.

The service will further fuel the tourism boom, with the Chinese market the fastest growing of them all.

The full-service airline, will launch its first daily direct service to Auckland on November 10. It will use an Airbus A332 aircraft with 283 seats, including 24 business class seats.

Li Dianchun, chief commercial officer of Hong Kong Airlines, said, "With the success of our service to Australia earlier this year, Hong Kong Airlines is more than delighted to announce this second long haul service, operating daily to Auckland, New Zealand."

There had been a steady increase year on year in the number of Hong Kong and China travellers visiting New Zealand. According to official figures as of March 2016, the total number of visitors from Hong Kong and China has recorded a rise in 19.1 per cent and 27.8 per cent respectively.

In total about 380,000 Chinese come to New Zealand and within two years they are forecast to be the biggest spenders, ahead of the million-plus Australians who come here each year.

Established in 2006, Hong Kong Airlines is a full-service airline firmly rooted in Hong Kong with 30 destinations across Asia-Pacific.

The current operating fleet is made up of 30 Airbus aircraft with an average age of around 3.5 years, consisting of 25 passenger aircraft and five freighters.

The TRENZ travel event in Rotorua this week heard seven new airlines had started serving Auckland in the past year.

Grant Bradley

Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

Airways SOE deals with travel boom

Airways is dealing with an unprecedented surge in demand as travel booms and it hosts a major conference.

The state-owned enterprise's chief executive Ed Sims said the organisation could cope now but more investment in technology was needed.

"The flow-on effect is good for New Zealand only if we've got the supply of technology that can match this level of demand," Sims said.

"We can cope currently but in the next three years there's going to be more demand for satellite-based control rather than primary radar and even for infrared surveillance at control towers rather than manual observation."

Airways is hosting the two-day Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation Asia-Pacific conference in Queenstown, involving some of the region's most senior aviation leaders.

The talks would be vital to ensure the sustainability of Asia-Pacific and of travel and tourism to New Zealand, Sims said.

"Our region is facing a period of unprecedented growth - the projected increase in traffic and airspace congestion will have a profound impact on safety, efficiency, environmental sustainability and the wider economy."

The single runway at Auckland Airport created some pressure, especially during the summer peak.

"In terms of providing safe separation it's not just the number of aircraft but the type of aircraft - the separation standards behind an A380 are disproportionately significant to those of an A320."

The flow-on effect is good for New Zealand only if we've got the supply of technology that can match this level of demand,

Ed Sims, Airways Corporation chief executive

According to the International Air Transport Association, within 20 years about half of the world's air travel - nearly three billion journeys - will touch Asia Pacific, up from around 30 per cent now.

By 2030, the world will need another 40,000 air traffic controllers to handle those flights, the International Civil Aviation Organisation said.

Sims said Canada was poised to move to full space-based control and New Zealand was watching closely.

"The challenge for New Zealand is one of scale - we don't have the same congestion in terms of flows," Sims said. "We've got to make the economics work as well as making the technology work."

Radar fault tracked down

Airways is confident it has tracked down a fault that led to radar failing for nearly two hours last year.

Chief executive Ed Sims said it had not released its own report on the incident that led to 170 flights being grounded as the Transport Accident Investigation Commission had not completed its inquiry.

Sims said the radar system shut down last June after a "broadcast storm of data. We're fully on top of the circumstances that caused that outage," he said.

Grant Bradley

Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald


John McIntyre adds V8-powered backing to Abel Tasman Cycle Challenge

John McIntyre organiser of the Abel Tasman Cycle Challenge with Tasman mayor Richard Kempthorne, left and Nelson Airport ...  

A local V8 racing legend's full-throttle attempt to bring a marquee cycle event to the region has been realised.

John McInytre was spurred into action by watching regular pelotons whiz past his Moutere home.

"Every day at least a handful of people will be cycling past my front gate," he said. "It's pretty quiet out here and hearing them chatting away I just thought 'why is Nelson/Tasman one of the only regions not to have something like this of their own?'"

The idea for the Abel Tasman Cycle Challenge was born. It held its official launch at Nelson Airport on Tuesday evening.

Entries are now open for the December 3 event which is being promoted as the first of its kind for the region.

The challenge will be a scenic participation-friendly ride for individuals and teams as opposed to an actual race. Competitors will complete in a loop from Saxton Field to Kaiteriteri and back with solo, pair and foursome options included in the programme.

The 158km course will be be entirely undertaken on the road and open to riders aged 13 and up. It has required a substantial five-month planning process with Opus, police, Downer, and the Nelson city and Tasman district councils before being signed off in February.

McIntyre's motorsport legacy is impressive - from being the Hawkes Bay Car Club motorkana champion in 1990 to winning the Hampton Downs 3 hour endurance race in March this year.

So why then is an accomplished petrolhead so eager to push for a two wheeled spectacle in the region?

"My racing career has always been travelling away from Nelson since there are no race tracks here and I really wanted to find something I could sink my teeth into that was local, so I've chosen something that is literally outside my front gate," he said.

McIntyre has enlisted former professional triathlete Shanelle Barrett as course director and is grateful for the support from the local cycling community, particularly Jim Matthews, in providing assistance on the course layout.

McIntyre believes the route will offer plenty of scenic value to attract a good number of inaugural entries despite none of the Great Taste Cycle Trail being used. He is hopeful of the local community creating a colourful, vibrant atmosphere on the day.

"It would be a lot easier not to got through places like Richmond due to the traffic management point of view, but we want to put something on people's doorstep and see what it'll bring to our region," he said.


Nelson teen officially recognised for breaking Guinness World Record for longest wheelie

There can't be too many Nelson teens that have a Guiness World Record under their belt, but Harry Denton does and it is not likely to be his last either. In December, 16-year-old Denton set out to break the world record for the longest manual, a bicycle stunt in which the rider balances on his back wheel without pedalling.

He obliterated the previous record set in 2011 by American Zachary Hutelin at 209.2 metres.

Harry Denton with his Guinness World Record certificate. Harry set a world record at Nelson Airport in December 2015 for ...

His attempt on a Nelson Airport taxiway was confirmed as the world record in April. The global records body recognised his 338.9 metre run and Denton received his official certificate in the mail last week.

While he was confident he had a good shot at setting the world record, Denton said he hoped that everything else would be approved by the Guiness World Record team. He had to wait a few months to find out whether he had been successful.

"There was a few things that I was a bit nervous about, they requested that I had official witness statements and all of that kind of carry on."

It was recommended that a judge or solicitor was present to witness the attempt.

However Denton said airport operations manager James Middlewick and one of the fire service officers who were on the scene had provided witness statements.

"They were obviously good enough for Guinness to see that it was legitimate."

He got the certificate framed last week and now it was now hanging on the wall above his bed.

Denton hasn't stopped since then. He has been busy building mountainbike jumps with fellow riders at Branford Park with the help of Nelson Mountain Bike Club volunteers.

He also hoped to plan a fundraising ride from Nelson to Christchurch for later in the year.

"Just to raise some money to get the jumps built and have a park up there so that people can learn skills and take them to the next level."

His next goal was to set a record by doing a wheelie through the recently opened Spooners Tunnel.

"It would be really cool for the Nelson area having the tunnel all over the internet," he said. "That's just a little project in the background."


Originair ready to fly again

Originair ready to fly again

The Nelson-based airline started commercial flights last August with a service from Nelson to Palmerston North, it later expanded to include a Nelson to Wellington service.

But in March, the airline – which is owned by former Origin Pacific and Air Nelson owner Robert Inglis – was grounded when the Civil Aviation Authority placed restrictions on Air Freight Ltd operating Originair planes, over safety concerns.

Robert says he has made “good progress” on getting his two aircraft flying again.

“Yes, we have progressed, but I probably need another day or two before I can make an announcement on that, I just want to get all my ducks in a row. But we have made a lot of progress.”

A Christchurch football team confirmed they had a chartered booking for May 21 cancelled by Originair with pilot unavailability given as the reason.

The company’s social media accounts have also gone quiet. The airline’s Facebook page was updated almost daily until March 10, when all activity stopped.

Several questions from customers have gone unanswered, including several asking “when will you be flying again?”

Robert says it’s likely they will start flying again in June.

He says having planes sitting on the tarmac, instead of flying has been “a real disappointment, but sometimes life is like that”.

“We’ve made good process and after getting over my crop harvest I’ve been focussing on getting a war-chest together to get the past tided up and get on,” says Robert who also has business interests in the horticulture industry.

He didn’t want to comment further until he had things “neat and tidy”.

Andrew Board

May 4th, 2016 9:48 am


Kiwi Regional Airlines ditches Chch flight plans

Kiwi Regional Airlines (Facebook)

Kiwi Regional Airlines is ditching plans to fly into Christchurch from later this month, in a bid to hunker down during winter months and expand in summer.

Chief executive Ewan Wilson says the company had difficulty getting slot times they preferred and terminal and ramp space, meaning they would have to change their schedule.

The airline planned to do flights between Nelson and Christchurch and Dunedin and Nelson twice a week, and Tauranga, Nelson and Christchurch, but now will be sticking to a "skeleton schedule network for the four months over winter", beginning from June 1.

The Wednesday service will stop operating, and from June 13 the Monday service will stop.

"We're a leisure airline. We don't compete for the corporate routes which are year round," Mr Wilson told Newshub.

"We rely on family visiting family and going direct region to region, and that is clearly seasonal."

Mr Wilson says the decision is not a sign of any trouble for the carrier, just a seasonal adjustment to the schedule.

"Kiwi is operating and will continue to operate, and will adjust the schedule due to seasonal peaks and troughs."

The decision comes as Air New Zealand announces increasing direct flights between Tauranga and Christchurch.

Kiwi Regional Airlines runs flights to Hamilton, Nelson, Tauranga and Dunedin.

It has been operating for six months with one plane, but Mr Wilson says the airline will grow when it's appropriate. A decision on crowd funding has not yet been made.

"In our schedule post October our intention is to operate 7 days a week," he says.

"We have had a very good first summer and know we'll have an even better second summer."


Tuesday 3 May 2016 11:28 a.m.


Singapore Air's swanky cabin upgrade Singapore Airlines is showing off its latest cabin upgrade in Auckland today as it celebrates 40 years of flying here.

The airline has spent $465 million remodelling the cabins of its 777-300s and will use the upgraded planes to cover the peak period in New Zealand.

Singapore Airlines celebrated its 40th year of serving New Zealand with a ceremony at Auckland Airport this morning involving long time staff.

On May 2 1976, a Boeing 707 landed here after a flight Auckland, via Sydney. The new service - initially just twice weekly - set the stage for the direct twice daily flights to Auckland that Singapore Airlines operates today. The airline also operates between Singapore and Christchurch.

Singapore Airlines general manager, New Zealand, Simon Turcotte said the service has made a significant contribution to inbound and outbound tourism. In 1976 just 30,000 New Zealanders visited Singapore, while last year more than 125,000 flew to the city island, an increase of more than 400 per cent. Singapore Airlines has served Auckland using a number of different aircraft, including DC10s, the Boeing 747 series, Airbus 340, several versions of Boeing 777 aircraft, and the Airbus A380.

The 777-300 takes over from the A380 which covers the route in the peak season.

Singapore Airlines is expanding in New Zealand and will start Wellington services from September 20. The "Capital Express" service will offer four flights per week to Singapore via Canberra, and directly connect New Zealand's and Australia's capital cities for the first time.

The "Next Generation" cabins aboard the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft feature new comforts and have first class mini-suites that the airline says are among the spacious in the sky and business class seats that have the industry's widest fully flat bed.

Business class in the "next Generation" cabin have the industry's widest fully flat bed. Photo / Grant Bradley

New economy class seats also have increased personal space and leg-room, the airline said.

When Singapore Airlines was formed in 1972, it had just ten aircrafts flying to 22 cities in 18 countries. The airline, which is majority owned by a Singaporean government investment company, now operates a fleet of more than 100 aircraft to 60 destinations in 33 countries.

Grant Bradley

Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald