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.

Source : http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/63111946/Air-NZ-reneges-on-its-promise

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

See : http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/9743724/City-Wellington-air-service-a-challenge


  1. My feeling is that PMR-WLG is only saved because of HLZ. What I think will happen is a Q300 that currently runs some nights WLG-HLZ (alongside other direct services) will route up WLG-PMR-HLZ and the same back down in the morning. It's only a guess though.

  2. Bit of a sad day for Kaitaia, Westport and Whakatane....

    Kaitaia has always been a Eagle air route and has been chugging along with the 1/2 flights a day with the then Banderatie and now the 1900Ds and they were looking into Q300s...? didn't they not strengthen their runway in prep for flights..?

    Whakatane... Big surprise.. Its been a Eagle air through and through.. Being from the region I have been to that unique airport many times.. Remember when they had between 5-6 flights a day with a mixture of Metros and Banderaties... Then now with the B1900Ds.. Didn't they started flight's very briefly to Wellington or had a serious look into it..?

    Westport... It was originally a Air Nelson port with the old Metros then went to Eagle air when Air Nelson retired their Metros

    Out of these three airports... What ones will one day come back on line..? Whakatane would have to be at the top of the list with the fact that they had five flights a day with Opotiki feeding the odd one or two passengers... and what about Kaitaia and Westport...? Both have their reasons for flights one day returning..

  3. Salt Air could possibly come into the play with this...? having Two caravans..?
    Westport would most likely be a perfect fit to either Sound Air or Air2there's schedule's..
    As I said just before there... Whakatane would have to be the most likely to get reinstated with the amount of flights they were getting per day otherwise I guess that they wouldn't of had gotten the four flights a day..

    1. Salt Air would have to reinvest in Caravans... Westport in a Caravan - not sure... mountains and rough weather... It's 50 minutes in a Beech, much longer on a Caravan

  4. Hey Steve you should have a serious look into starting some sort of forum/discussion page or something on this blog... Something that brings a topic back to the top when commented or discussed.
    Getting bored of the Aviation forum on airliners.net on the NZ thread.. Some interesting stuff pops up but 70% is all about what's the best first class seat to sit in and when something like this pops up it's all about just can all regional flights haha... This blog is far more interesting by far!!! Loving the blogs you write up!! Sure there are many that frequent here that would love to discuss about the day to day aviation scene in little old NZ

  5. Salt Air. They don't have any caravans. Am sure Sounds Air got one of theirs after they canned their WRE/KDE services. I reckon Westport might see Sounds Air. I have a feeling old Sunair will have a bash at Whakatane. However they'd need something nicer than those horrid, ancient Azteca. Katia will be a interesting one. I wait with baited breath to see what will happen

  6. m.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11357190

  7. Salt Air don't have any machines capable of IFR, MJL went to Sounds Air.
    A couple things to consider with putting a caravan on a route to Wesport.
    -Sector distance and alternates: Caravan wont beable to take a full load with bag allowance and fuel required to get to Wesport let alone alternate holding (remember we are talking about the west coast if westport is crap its likely the rest are as well, could be potentially fixed by going via Nelson)
    -Sctor MSA: MIN 9000 North and lowest route South 8000 (only 100 higher than minimum which is a buffer of 2000 over mountainous areas, cant fly above 130000 unless oxy equipped) which means ICE. as it appears this new machine may have TKS whch is the ONLY system allowed for known icing conditions in Caravans .Also anyone that has flown around the ranges with anything over 40 odd knots will know about mountainwaves and a C208 at near all up weight with the -114 engine at 10000 is not the best performing machine around.
    Just two important things, while not impossible to overcome could present a considerable challenge for a machine like the Caravan to be viable on such a route. I personally think its almost a pressurised aircraft job.

  8. Sounds Air Palmy to Nelson makes a lot of sense, it's a very similar route to it's current operations and is consistent with it's slow creep along Cook Strait (Wanganui and soon Paraparaumu). It's also an established route, and the company has good visibility at the Nelson end (I'm sure some well placed advertising could help raise it's image in Palmerston North as well).
    I could also potentially see a Palmerston North - Paraparaumu - Nelson loop working later on, however I can't see a direct Palmy - Wellington service working unless Air Nelson gave the route up in a couple of years time.