Activity has started at Nelson Airport as it gears up for the biggest redevelopment project in its history.
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
Nelson-based Originair will resume direct flights between Nelson and Palmerston North in September .
It will also operate some flights for the upcoming school holidays from July 15 and its charter services are available.
The fledging Nelson-based airline ceased flying on April 1, after launching in August last year.
Managing Director Robert Inglis said the disruption to the airlines' services was caused by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) placing a restriction on its Air Operator's Certificate.
"It has taken some time to transfer all our aircraft records from our previous operator to [new operator] Inflite." Originair's operator Air Freight NZ was unable to operate the company's flights in February as the CAA investigated reported safety concerns.
CAA official information officer Karl van der Plas said a report into those concerns was still being completed.
Inglis said the disruption to Originair's flights was disappointing but he was confident in the new arrangement with Inflite Charters.
One of Originair's jetstream aeroplanes is leased from the Auckland company.
"I have worked with that company for probably three decades at least so I'm very comfortable with that relationship."
The Nelson/Palmerston North service will initially focus on peak days each week before increasing services in-line with demand in the high season.
Kiwi Regional Airlines was folded into Air Chathams last month after it struggled to cope a drop in business over winter with only one aircraft, owner Ewan Wilson said.
Inglis said Originair workers had moved to Jetstar since April and a new Originair staff would be employed by Aerocare NZ.
Asked if he would consider taking on Kiwi Regional's routes he said "certainly the long Nelson to Christchurch [route] doesn't interest me".
"I have operated the Nelson-Hamilton [flight] in the past and that could be an option but we certainly haven't made a decision."
He said Originair would focus first on the growing in-bound market.
Palmerston North Airport chief executive David Lanham said the airport worked with Originair to set-up check-in counters and hanger space.
"It's great to have that direct link to Nelson back up and running again and we're sure it will be well used."
Robertson Holden general manager Bryan McKay works from Nelson but regularly flies to the Palmerston North car yard.
He said the return of a direct connection between the two cities would make a huge difference to businesspeople and regular commuters.
"It's fantastic, no two ways about it. Since the route has been down it's been a long and expensive journey to get to Palmerston North."
Last updated 15:37, July 7 2016
Regional airline Sounds Air will take up the Christchurch to Blenheim route axed by Air New Zealand.
Sounds Air managing director, Andrew Crawford, said the route was critical to passengers who might otherwise spend hours travelling via Wellington.
The service starts on August 1, flying twice daily Monday to Friday, using nine-seater pressurised Pilatus PC12 turboprop aircraft.
The airline would initially fly up to 180 passengers a week, but lunchtime and weekend flights would be added before the end of the year, lifting weekly capacity to 300 seats.
The starting numbers were "a bit light" but the airline would add more capacity by the end of September, Crawford said.
Most of the passengers would be business travellers wanting daily return flights, but the service would also take hundreds of Marlborough patients to Christchurch for medical appointments.
The local health board indicated a direct link to Christchurch was vital, Crawford said.
Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce chief executive, Peter Townsend, welcomed the announcement. He regularly travelled to Blenheim for business and said it was a lot easier to fly up and back rather than make the long return drive in a day.
The air link was also important for the Marlborough wine industry which depended on Christchurch as a source of supplies for vineyards and wine production.
A standard fare booked online would cost $199 but a bulk purchase of 10 fares would cut the price to $189.
Sounds Air has been flying two Pilatus PC12s from Wellington to Westport and Wellington to Taupo - both routes dropped by Air New Zealand.
The Blenheim to Christchurch route was a "natural fit" for the company as a Marlborough-based business, he said.
The airline had no immediate plans for other routes, he said.
In late 2003 Sounds Air had one plane and 14,000 passengers. It expected by the end of 2016 to have nine aircraft and nearly 100,000 passengers.
The airline started 30 years ago and employs more than 60 staff, including 24 pilots, most of whom are based in Wellington.
Last updated 16:49, June 17 2016