12 August 2010
Tauranga Flight Boost
Air New Zealand is reviewing flights in and out of Tauranga with more seats likely to be added and direct flights to Christchurch resumed. Bruce Parton, group general manager of shorthaul airlines, said the airline was looking to increase the number of flights to and from Tauranga, particularly in the peak season. A decision on the changes will be made within the next three weeks, with the new schedule operating in October. Mr Parton said customers had demanded more value for money and more frequent flights to and from Tauranga. "We had a lot of feedback on a number of routes. Tauranga to Christchurch was one, where people were talking about having to fly from Tauranga to Auckland to Christchurch, or Tauranga to Wellington to Christchurch. There were a number of routes that got a mention." Frequent travellers had also complained about the timing of flights and wanted better connections through Auckland and more direct flights. The review could see bigger planes flying from Tauranga, if more seats were added rather than more flights. "It depends on what we think the market's ready for," Mr Parton said. "The trick for us is to make sure we cater to that demand, while not [oversupplying] so we end up with lots of empty planes." Tauranga was "absolutely" seen as a growing market for the airline, Mr Parton said and the new Koru Lounge at Tauranga Airport in 2008 was proof of investment in the region. The airline is also keen to increase the number of Grabaseat fares from Tauranga. "Everyone says the same about Grabaseat - everyone says we want more $1 fares. We are hoping to look at it." Bigger aircraft could also mean increased availability of cheaper seats. Last month the airline launched its Starfish Card, which discounts regional fares by as much as 30 per cent. But Consumer NZ warned frequent flyers to do the maths before shelling out $800 for the card. Passengers were advised to calculate how much they travel and how beneficial the discounts would be before applying for the card.
The Bay of Plenty Times made one small glitch - there is still a weekday Tauranga-Christchurch service. The news that Tauranga is more than likely to receive additional flights follows a similar announcement in Napier... see http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/07/starfish-and-increased-napier-flights.html. One wonders if there will be a major reshuffle of all regional services.
Posted by Steve L at 7:56 PM