This blog started off by focussing on NZ's smaller 3rd level airlines, past and present. It has evolved to trying to present some record of NZ's domestic airline operations and some of the larger charter operators, interesting NZ international airliner movements and photos I have taken around the country. Comments, corrections or contributions are welcome, Steve - email@example.com
12 November 2014
Palmerston North Reaction to Air NZ Cuts
Air New Zealand has backtracked on promises made earlier this year by cutting direct flights between Palmerston North and Nelson. The national carrier announced a shake-up to its regional flights routes yesterday, cutting several services around the country, including the Nelson to Palmerston North link as of April next year. Direct flights between Nelson and Palmerston North were restarted last year after a four-year hiatus. Air New Zealand then promised in July that from next year it would make the service less frequent but use a larger plane, moving to a once weekly, return, weekday service on the 50-seat Q300 aircraft. But the most recent announcement means the airline will scrap the flights altogether. Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway said it was another frustration for people who were trying to develop the city as a destination. "The services into the regions are pretty dire as it is - I'm very frustrated with Air New Zealand because they've only just re-established the Nelson route and we were told that if we used it, it would carry on but now it's been cut as part of a series of cuts. "It almost feels like bad faith from Air New Zealand." Acting mayor Jim Jefferies said the news was disappointing and confusing. "I used that link just last week and found it very convenient . . . it does seem a bit inconsistent to lose it so quickly after it just recently being reinstated," he said. "But it's quite clear that we're still a significant transport hub for Air New Zealand, because there [are] three other centres that have really lost out." Destination Manawatu chief executive Lance Bickford said it was discouraging after the work Palmerston North Airport staff had done since 2008 to get the route up and running again. The company said it had been losing $1 million a month on routes served by Beech 1900D aircraft in the past two years. The company currently operates two return weekday services between Palmerston North and Nelson using that fleet. "The 19-seat aircraft is the smallest in the Air New Zealand fleet but has the highest cost per seat to operate because the fixed costs of operation are distributed across fewer passengers," chief executive Christopher Luxon said. Instead, Air New Zealand would be introducing "significant additional seat capacity" across Manawatu which would mean "cheaper fares would be offered to customers". The Palmerston North to Wellington link and the Palmerston North to Hamilton link will both be on 50-seat Q300 aircraft next year, with a 15 per cent cut in fares. Palmerston North Airport chief executive officer David Lanham has told the Manawatu Standard the best options for boosting traffic through the airport and for supporting regional growth were retaining services, securing new links, and providing international passengers with better connections. He did not wish to comment on yesterday's announcement.
One of the interesting features of the Palmerston North cuts is that the Palmerston North-Wellington service is remaining. In February the Manawatu Standard reported... "Flights between Palmerston North and Wellington are on Air New Zealand's radar as one of its poorest-performing regional services. Air NZ chief executive Christopher Luxon told the Manawatu Chamber of Commerce yesterday the airline was confident about increasing overall passenger numbers through Palmerston North Airport. While the Palmerston North to Nelson link, reinstated last year, was a success, maintaining the service to Wellington was an emerging challenge." Clearly they are hoping the Nelson traffic will flow through the Wellington service but one wonders if they were better dumping the Wellington service and let Sounds Air do Nelson-Palmerston North