12 October 2013

No Mount Cook flights

Air New Zealand will not go ahead with flights to Aoraki/Mt Cook this summer, citing a lack of passenger interest. The carrier's subsidiary Mount Cook Airline relaunched the thrice-weekly service from December 23 last year until January 27 this year. They were the first scheduled flights to the alpine village since 2002, but a spokesperson said they would not continue this summer as "operational challenges and lack of passenger demand last season mean it was not viable". Hermitage Hotel general manager Nigel Harper was disappointed, but not surprised. "They didn't give it a proper go. Six weeks is not enough time to get an idea of how the market is going," he said. "Ideally, you would run the service from October to March. This would give it a chance to build up the momentum." The Hermitage spent more than $50,000 to get the airport back to the required accreditation, and also ran a bus service from the airport to the hotel. Mr Harper said the fact the village was also battered by the elements in January could have affected passenger numbers. The weather gauge recorded more than 930mm of rainfall in the first two weeks of this year, and wind gusts in excess of 170kmh. Mr Harper said the local providers were informed of the trial service about a year before it went ahead, but this was not enough lead time. "If it's only a trial service, this makes it difficult to build product around. The Japanese market is pretty strict in terms of advertising. You can't change the brochures only a few months before the next season." The service involved a 68-seat ATR aircraft, which flew from Christchurch to Mt Cook. The aircraft then carried on to Queenstown, with a return service departing mid-afternoon. Mr Harper said the upgrade of the airport meant it would be able to host the flights tomorrow if Air NZ revived the service. "However, we want them to work more with the providers. There didn't seem to be enough thought into this," he said.

No comments:

Post a Comment