21 February 2014

Another chop coming???

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. "There is no immediate concern, and I don't want to suggest it is under threat. But in a spirit of transparency, I am making sure we are doing a good job of foreshadowing where we see weaknesses in the routes coming in and out of here." Mr Luxon was earlier challenged to explain why flights from Palmerston North to Auckland were cheaper than those to Wellington. The answer was economies of scale. He said Air NZ had not done a good job in the past of explaining the economics of operating a regional network. It was the reality, he said, that seats on a large, full aircraft were cheaper than those on a small, partly empty one, even if the distance was shorter. Mr Luxon said Air NZ was poised to grow and improve its regional services where there was demand, and where regional groups worked together to ensure any increased capacity on its routes was taken up. In some parts of the country, he found mayors, airport companies and tourism groups all had different ideas and were fighting among themselves about what flights they wanted. He said the Manawatu leaders' group he met yesterday, while not dysfunctional, needed to be more united and clear about the priorities and projects it wanted the airline to support. Mr Luxon said it was highly unlikely trans-Tasman flights would ever be re-established out of Palmerston North, because they were not economically viable. The only way they could work would be through a ratepayer subsidy underwriting the service. Mayor Jono Naylor earlier this week dismissed that possibility. "That could put rates up by 1.5 per cent, and I don't know how many people who don't travel would be happy to pay that." Mr Luxon said a better way to get more overseas visitors to Palmerston North, and enable residents to travel to overseas destinations more easily, would be to improve connections. That could include changes to schedules to make the links through the main centres work better, or through services to smooth the baggage, passport and border control processes.



  1. Sad. I fly the route once every month or two. Unfortunately the WLG-PMR-WLG flights are so unreliable. I flew WLG-PMR yesterday, 8 passengers all up. I disagree flights on the PMR to WLG sector are expensive, two days out and the booking engine reveals flights for $79. Glad however the PMR-NSN flights are to stay.

  2. My question is how many people are just flying between Palmerston and Wellington and how many are trans-shipping to other flights??? My guess would be that with so many flights to Christchurch there wouldn't be many trans-shipping. I imagine you can still get $79 seats 2 days out because not many are using the service.

  3. That there is the issue. PMR-CHC is served daily by around 3 ATR 72s and 2 Bombardier Q300s, PMR-AKL is served by around 9 ATRs daily, PMR-NSN, 2 1900Ds a day and PMR-HLZ, 2 1900Ds a day. For a domestic port, Palmerston North is very well served.

    The only reason you would really tranship in WLG from PMR is if you were flying on services only avalible out of WLG, eg. WSZ, TIU, or say BHE, where it would seem illogical to go all the way to AKL or CHC.

    I have often wondered what the problem was with PMR-WLG. TRG and HLZ are around about the same distance from Auckland as PMR is from WLG. HLZ has up to 3 1900D flights a day to Auckland which are more or less fairly well patronized. TRG has 1 ATR service, 3 or 4 1900D services and up to Four Q300s, and all flights have a good loading. The Capital Connection Train which runs daily between Palmerston and Wellington takes a lot of business travelers away, that would without the train, would fly to WLG instead.

    For all our complaining, Air New Zealand do a great job serving NZs smaller towns. There arnt many countrys in the world were towns with only 5000people recieve a scheduled twice daily airservice like KAT and WSZ

  4. Well said... I agree entirely.

    HLZ-AKL I suspect are mainly positioning flights from Eagles base at HLZ to AKL... but also I would suspect a fair amount of transhipping to international services.

    TRG-AKL is as you say very interesting... a certain amount would be transhipping to international and domestic, but it would seem a lot of business traffic. The road from AKL to TRG is extremely busy... perhaps it is perceived to be much more relaxing to take a plane to AKL and then the airport bus into town along the bus lanes

  5. Dropping PMR-WLG would allow another beech to be parked up. The aircraft operating PMR-WLG in the morning could go to NSN instead and hence the 1900 that overnights there could be retired. This would help toward the goal of only operating 10 planes. I guess 90% likely hood of PMR-WLG being dropped in the next year or so

  6. TRG only has 2 1900's now one midmorning and the other mid afternoon.

    The amount of crew (not just Eagle crew) on a HLZ-AKL and return is quite interesting also.

  7. I am a rampie at Tauranga and indeed we do have up to four 1900D flights a day. Thursdays and Fridays being busier days