21 May 2016
What's going on???
It's been a while since I wrote my thoughts on what's going on in the regional scene. The news that Kerikeri and Whangarei are losing overnighting flights has prompted me to think somewhat about these centres.
The news that Kerikeri and Whangarei are loosing their overnight Air New Zealand services meaning a later departure from the Northland centres to Auckland and with earlier late evening return services is a major blow to Northland business traffic. One wonders what Air New Zealand's motivation is. Perhaps it is the saving of not having to pay overnight accommodation for the crews? Or perhaps the Q300s are being deployed elsewhere to battle Jetstar. Whatever the reasons Air New Zealand seems to be going back to a Friendship-days mentality of providing services to the provinces when they have got aircraft spare. They have already cut services to Westport, Whakatane and Kaitaia and links between Auckland and Hamilton and Taupo and Wellington following the earlier withdrawal from Masterton, Wanaka and Oamaru. With the replacement of the Beech 1900s with Q300s Hokitika and Taupo have lost their overnight services and Timaru has a less than adequate service for early morning flights into South Canterbury with a late afternoon return. The tragedy in my opinion was all the work that Eagle Air and Air Nelson did to develop these routes has been lost.
In saying that Westport seems more than happy with their Sounds Air service. From my observation the Taupo run seems a bit slower on the uptake but anyone who does use it loves it. Whakatane love their Air Chathams service and as has been reported their is the possibility of a Wellington service. Certainly both Whakatane and Westport have owned their new airlines and both airlines care about the communities they serve. It becomes then a mutual win win for town and airlines.
Barrier Air have had a harder job on the Kaitaia run but it seems to have bedded down a lot better with two flights a day operating to Auckland, albeit one operating via Whangarei. Sadly for Barrier the new Air New Zealand schedule from November will have a Q300 almost replicating their new Auckland-Whangarei service.
One wonders then if some of the regional airlines can actually do a much better job. I really do think Air New Zealand should think about doing some interline agreements with them - even just for baggage and late connections. People are flying the regionals and if their passengers fly to a major centre they then have a choice of airline to connect with... Why fly Air New Zealand when they offer nothing to encourage people to connect with their services?
One wonders if there is room for a regional airline to pick up early morning services from Kerikeri to Auckland (the return of Salt Air?), from Taupo to Auckland (the return of Taupo Air Services?) from Hokitika or Greymouth to Wellington (the return of Air West Coast?). I still think Masterton-Auckland is a possibility as well as Oamaru-Wellington. Perhaps an airline with an Aero Commander 690 could test the market before putting a Metroliner on the market?
Before I leave Air NZ the Hamilton-Palmerston North will reduce to one flight a day from late August BUT is back to two flights a day from November!
On other fronts, Kiwi Regional keep trucking up and down the country. Their plan had been to go daily by now but they are staying with a five day a week schedule. This was probably quite wise. In the end it seems to me that there is not a lot of room for them to move without tackling Air New Zealand.
All remains quiet on the Originair front. I would have thought that the Nelson-Palmerston North would be a good fit for Sounds Air or Air2there but there have been no moves in that direction.
Barrier Air is still offering some Hamilton-Auckland services. I want to try this service at some point (especially if the Partenavia is doing the run) but the schedule is not great. I think Barrier Air needs to really do its homework as to who that service is for and really target advertising accordingly.
And speaking of advertising - Sunair. I love seeing what Sunair is doing. They have a fairly solid service between Gisborne, the Bay of Plenty and Hamilton with one or two flights operating most days. Sunair aren't cheap (though they have daily specials) and they fly when they have traffic. But they save a huge drive especially if people are doing a day return trip and this is the niche market for this run. But they don't advertise. I wonder how many people know of their services. The new North Shore service is a point in case. I've heard that it has flown but I haven't seen it on Flightaware. I think it was a shame they pulled out of Napier. With no Air New Zealand connection via Auckland there surely must be some traffic to Hamilton and/or Tauranga. And with the growth in Tauranga is there room for flights from there to Palmerston North or New Plymouth? Just wondering!
Stewart Island Flights, Golden Bay Air, Air2there and Fly My Sky seem content with their niche services and there doesn't seem a lot of room for development of additional services.
And of course then there is Jetstar... haven't heard a lot but I have hasn't spoken of high load factors. One wonders!
Well this should generate a bit of comment!
Enjoy the weekend
Posted by Steve L at 9:41 AM