18 February 2014

Expanding Regional Services

While February has seen Air Zealand Link pull its service to Masterton a number of other centres have seen an expansion of services...

From the 9th of February the morning Auckland-Rotorua-Auckland service was upgraded from a Beech 1900 to the larger Q300 aircraft. A slight timetable change was made with  the Auckland to Rotorua flight moving from 8:05am to 8:30am, and the Rotorua to Auckland service leaving slightly later at 9:30am instead of 9:00am. Airport chief executive Alastair Rhodes said the scheduling changes and increased capacity were already proving popular. "Forward bookings on the route have already experienced double digit growth compared to the previous year, as a result of the Q300s 30 per cent capacity upgrade. This is encouraging."

Tauranga has also experiencing upsizing of the aircraft serving its airport. 68-seat ATR-72 aircraft now fly an Auckland-Tauranga-Auckland service five evenings a week. Airport manager Ray Dumble said "What's really cool is that we are constantly getting increases each time Air New Zealand renews its schedules." He has witnessed a 250 per cent rise in the number of aircraft seats servicing Tauranga over the past 10 years, from 440 seats a day 10 years ago to over 1100 seats now. The four additional ATR evening services began on February 10. Q300s have also taken over some of the weekend services previously flown by 19-seater Beech aircraft.

This week New Plymouth will also see similar expansion. On Wednesday the number of passenger flights each day will change from 26 to 28, including having the larger ATR-72 planes coming to the airport six times a day instead of the current two. That will increase the number of available sets - up from 1076 seats to 1616. The latest figures show last year was a record year for the airport, with the number of people flying in and out of New Plymouth increasing from 310,943 in 2012, to 332,178 in 2013. Airport manager Kevin Hill said it was possible more than 400,000 passengers could come through the New Plymouth Airport this year. The airport's terminal building opened in 1964 and was designed for just 60,000 passengers per year. The New Plymouth District Council is designing an extension of the terminal, with construction planned for 2015.

In the South Island Blenheim too is benefiting from the regional expansions. From February 10 50-seat Bombardier Q300s are being flown on the Blenheim-Auckland route instead of a 19-seat Beechcraft 1900D. Air New Zealand regional affairs manager Ian Collier said the Q300 would make four return flights each day between the two airports. A second Q300 would be used for some Blenheim to Wellington flights but would not be solely allocated to this route, Mr Collier said.

In other regional news the Palmerston North to Nelson flights are staying. Air New Zealand reinstated the Nelson to Palmerston North direct flights last July, and airport company chief executive Mr Darin Cusack said they had proven so popular the service had been confirmed as permanent. The flights were an average of 75 to 85 per cent full both ways. The airport company had worked hard to convince Air New Zealand that the service would work, and passenger numbers had confirmed the potential.

I hear on the grapevine that as Air New Zealand introduces more of the new ATRs into services Q300 services will be expanded to other centres.


  1. Are the daily Auckland to Whangarei Q300s staying or is that temporary ?