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