30 May 2016

Air New Zealand to Withdraw from Whanganui and flights between Christchurch and Blenheim

A lack of demand is forcing Air New Zealand to end regional flights between Auckland and Whanganui, and between Christchurch and Blenheim. The national carrier said on Monday that both loss-making routes would stop from July 31 as "unfortunately ... [these] services do not have sufficient passenger demand to sustain a 50-seat aircraft service, despite the continued efforts of Air New Zealand and local stakeholders". In November 2014 Air New Zealand said it would retire its loss-making 19-seat Beech aircraft fleet in favour of the larger and more economically viable 50-seat Q300 aircraft in regional centres where if felt there was enough demand.  While some regional routes were cancelled then, the airline noted on Monday that, over the past year, it had added nearly 250,000 extra seats to regional services and would add another 400,000 in the next year. General manager of networks, Richard Thomson, said Air New Zealand looked closely at the Whanganui – Auckland service when the regional network was reviewed in 2014. "While the service was marginal at that time we believed it was worth taking a chance on Whanganui and working with the local community in an effort to stimulate demand.  "Unfortunately the market dynamics have changed markedly since then as a result of competition entering nearby Palmerston North just 70 kilometres away. The greater number of destinations, higher frequency of service and wider range of connecting options on offer at the neighbouring airport have unfortunately served to undermine demand for Whanganui services and we've seen customers effectively voting with their feet and using Palmerston North rather than Whanganui Airport.  "Despite almost halving the average fare on this route we've been unable to create sufficient additional passenger volume to sustain an ongoing service and unfortunately this means we will cease operating to Whanganui." Air New Zealand said while the Christchurch-Blenheim service would also end, it planned to boosts seats between Blenheim and Auckland and Wellington. Customers booked to travel on suspended services past July 31 would be able to get a refund or choose a different airport to fly from. 


  1. Pretty sure Whanganui is between whakatane and wellington.
    Sounds like prime metro sectors.

  2. This is just rot. WAG has had great loadings on the Q300. Air New Zealand are really starting to muck Regional New Zealand around. I'm so over it. Cannot base and plan my business around Air NZ anymore. As a frequent flyer between WHK and WAG and also TIU,this is a right blow. First WHK, now WAG, Imagining TUO and TIU are next

    1. Either get real or start an airline with your own $20 million Dash 8s.

      The market wanted a competitor and now it's absolutely destroying demand everywhere and anywhere close to where it goes.

      Grant Kerr at Jetstar said they wanted to aggressively persue passengers from the catchments of WAG, PPQ and MRO onto the PMR services. He seems to be succeeding.

    2. What a crock of sh*t, what planet are you on ? Jetstar have hardly made a scratch on air nz with their 5 aircraft when demand for regional air travel in nz is at a near all time high, hence why air nz keep buying more planes.

    3. Jetstar have said publicly PMR is their least performing regional route. As such they continue to aggressively price it.

      Many passengers have told me that when the beech was flying they would drive to PMR and fly ATR to AKL. When the Dash began into WAG with lower fares to WAG, initially it took off...
      But as Jetstar continued to lure with unsustainable fares and Air NZ offering 8 returns a day with ATRs. The goose has been cooked.

      Contributing factors
      Short drive by international standards for a regional town to get to a higher populated area.

      Unsustainable pricing from a foreign competitior in that same nearby city.

      Weekdays nearby city has Air NZ flying 8 returns a day to AKL, 7 to CHC, 2 to both HLZ and WLG.

      WAG did achieve a better initial Dash schedule than TUO.. But with the above facts considered and aircraft availability tight, people in northland wanted a good schedule and are prepared to use it. So the aircraft is pulled from WAG and placed in KKE.

  3. It appears what has happened here is removing WAG has freed up a Q300 and the KKE overnight will remain beyond October.

    Northland is now happy and WAG residents will continue to chose to fly with the Australian airline Jetstar and ATR flights flown by mount cook.

  4. Jetstar and the KKE local people's Lobby to keep the schedule with an early departure have sealed the fate of WAG. The end - thanks for coming.

    As for BHE - CHC that thing was a basket case with the beech with some random spikes in demand, Dash has struggled most days with less than 15 sometimes 5 or so

    1. They will never attract many passengers with $350 one way CHC to BHE. The HKK flights are just as expensive and never see any seat sales on the routes.
      The service was set up to fail with the changes from a respectable 0840 departure to an 0610 ex CHC. Which did not allow any chance for connections from the likes of DUD & IVC.

    2. Agree, poor timings.
      However I suggest you take a look at the website again. Both the sectors you mentioned are incredibly cheap.

    3. Can't see any CHC - BHE over $140 on the website at all.

  5. Air Chathams : Auckland-Wanganui
    Sounds Air : Blenheim-Christchurch

    My predictions looking ahead... watch out Taupo, Timaru and Hokitika
    Also maybe... Whangarei, Kerikeri

    1. Agreed re. WAG and BHE, and ultimately, these places will probably end up with better schedules, and better service. Look at WHK and WSZ. They are loving their new Air services.

      I have a feeling Hokitika will be okay,IF, and it's a big IF,Air New Zealand give the Coast a better schedule.

      Timaru is a worry, as is Taupo... watch this space.

      Flightmemory reveals I have had 17 flights in and out of Whanganui. Always a enjoyable flight, with a gorgeous approach over the Whanganui National Park,and the coastline.

    2. Air Chats it is for whanganui

  6. My prediction is coming true. Air NZ is rebuilding its own regional network around the Q300's and the ATR72's utilizing destinations that has population catchment of 50,000 plus and key tourism destinations like TUO and KKE.

    TIM will be axed in the near future.

    I think HKK will be retained despite the total population of the West Coast being approximately 33,000, due to its tourism value as the West Coast region is becoming a hot destination for the Asian market.

    Air NZ will keep the AKL/TUO/AKL services, as TUO is the gateway to the 2 skifields and the Tongariro National Park and Crossing.

    I am not sure about WRE but they will keep it but operating on a domestic/international connections schedules.

    Air NZ will use Q300's to BHE, HKK, WRE, KKE, TUO and TRG.

    Seeing how Air NZ is restructuring its regional network, its confirming my belief that Q300's are going to be replaced with ATR42-600 or mixture of ATR42/72-600's, so gives them a standard regional fleet type and be able to 'mix n matched' passengers loadings with respective ATR types.

    1. Kris is a good thinker.
      I fly HKK a lot and I always hear people saying oh it'll be retained its got great tourism value. I've only ever seen a couple or tourists onboard. It's almost exclusively business and medical fly in fly out and a few locals.
      The people are awesome and the ground staff in HKK are awesome, they know virtually every passenger who steps off the aircraft.

    2. From a tourism point of view, there is alot of international tourists who do not realise that you can fly CHC/HKK/CHC.

      InterCity operates from Fox Glacier and Franz Josef to Hokitika daily, so this service will connect with the afternoon Q300 to CHC and the same with people from with the daily InterCity service from Westport, Punakaiki and Greymouth to Hokitika connects with the afteronn Q300 to CHC.

      The morning Q300 service from CHC connects with the daily InterCity coach service from Hokitiki to Franz Josef and Fox Glacier. Alot of tourists are not aware of these connections. Also, Avis, Hertz, Budget and Thrifty have depots in Hokitika for car pick ups/drop offs for the 2 Q300 services from CHC.

      With Air NZ alliances with Singapore, Virgin Australia, Air China, Cathy Pacific, Etihad and United Airlines, I believe the Westland Regional Council wants to make a big tourism push of the region, with Air NZ which is still an untapped tourism market.

    3. Last few times I have been home I have been surprised to see Asian tourists getting on and off at HKK... It is as Kris said a growing market. If only Air NZ would try an early HKK-WLG late return...

      If HKK doesn't survive the current changes it won't get a replacement service... it will go to Greymouth instead

    4. Thanks Steve for your support about HKK.

      Why Greymouth? Isn't the Greymouth an un-controlled airport.

      I read on the Tourism West Coast website that there are plans to extend the runway for HKK/AKL, HKK/WLG and HKK/ROT flights.

      With Hainan Aviation Group (HNA Group) investing $150 off million into Virgin Australia and since HNA Group owning both Hainan Airlines (operating China/Australia) and Hongkong Airlines (HKK/AKL direct from 30 Nov 16), I see more Asian tourists arriving into NZ. There is now a growing trend of more adventurous middle and upper income Chinese free independent travellers coming looking for a more NZ experience as oppose to the group 'shopping' tours of the past, so I do see more growth in tourism to the West Coast region in the 2-5 years.

      I don't see Air NZ pulling out of HKK especially with increase of international flying directly to NZ from Asia and the USA.

    5. Hokitika is an uncontrolled airport too... Hokitika has the biggest airport on the Coast. But if PC12s were to replace Q300s there is no need for a longer runway so they might as well go to the larger town.

      HKK/AKL and HKK/ROT routes will never happen. Dream time. HKK/WLG could be really good. When Air West Coast were operating a Dornier 228 out of Greymouth both the Air NZ B1900 flight out of Hoki and the Dornier were full for the early morning flight. There are a LOT of Coasters who drive to CHC to cathc flights if the flights are out of HKK are too expensive. An early morning weekday out and evening return would be used.

    6. Also HKK is a lucky rare situation for NZ it has two sealed runways. Which neither AKL/WLG and DUD has or can afford!!!
      The NZ airports with two sealed runways are NPE, CHC, HKK and ZQN!

  7. Forget the ATR42 idea. The operating costs for a 72 are so low that it would be more cost efficient to just fly an ATR72 with a light passenger load. Better for the customer also as Air NZ would be likely to sell cheap seats to fill the rest of the aircraft

    1. So, you are saying that ATR72's can land/take off at KKE, TUO and WRE without any problems fully laden?

      According to the various comments I have read on the site, WRE is apparently is to short for ATR72 operation. Correct?

      Do you think Air NZ will be replacing the aging Q300 fleet with AT72-600's?

    2. Cook have done charters into all three ports you list. The 72 will get in and all albeit with payload restrictions depending on prevailing environmental conditions.

    3. For sure, would operate with weight restrictions. In other words a limited number of seats would be sold, in the same way some Auckland - pacific island flights are sold.

      The Q300 fleet could hardly be described as ageing. 8-11 years old. The newest in the world. 20+ yo Dash 8s are in very hot demand and still worth considerable amounts of cash because they're a capable solid and reliable aircraft.