01 October 2020

The media catches up...


Air New Zealand has called time on its last inter-regional route, and a smaller airline has swooped in to fill the void left by the national carrier. At Air New Zealand’s annual meeting on Tuesday chairman Dame Therese Walsh told shareholders all domestic routes were up and running again. However, its Hamilton-Palmerston North-Wellington service did not resume after New Zealand’s Covid-19 lockdown from March to April. An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said the last service from Hamilton to Palmerston North was on March 27. It resumed services to all 20 ports on its domestic network in June, she said. “However, we have not resumed services on our Hamilton-Palmerston North-Wellington route due to insufficient demand for our 50-seater Q300 aircraft.” Air New Zealand was servicing the Hamilton-Palmerston North route with its Bombardier Q300 planes. 

Nelson operator Originair seized on the opportunity presented by Air New Zealand’s departure, and from October 19 will operate direct weekday services between Palmerston North and Hamilton. The services will depart Palmerston North for Hamilton at 10:50am and depart Hamilton for Palmerston North at 1pm, Monday to Friday. Origin Air managing director Robert Inglis, who started Air Nelson which was later bought by Air New Zealand, said Palmerston North-Hamilton was primarily a business market, and those customers would like a double daily peak time morning and evening service. "We're certainly planning on doing that in early next year," Inglis said. The route was an extension of the Nelson-Palmerston North service Originair has operated since 2014, he said. “In many ways it's a relatively easy extension for us to go on to Hamilton.” Originair would initially service the route with a 19-seat a British Aerospace 19-seat Jetstream aircraft but it may increase the aircraft gauge to accommodate demand. “This represents a cautious start on the Hamilton-Palmerston North route in line with the challenging times.” Originair had hired two additional flight crew and two check in staff for the new route. It has also recently purchased a British Aerospace Jetstream 32EP from Iceland. Air New Zealand had previously operated the sector through its subsidiary Eagle Airways, with its 19-seat Beech aircraft. When Air New Zealand disestablished Eagle Airways in 2016 it stopped operating the route for a short time before putting on its Q300-8 aircraft. "I'm only assuming that that might have been a little bit more capacity than the route needed," Inglis said. 

Aviation commentator Irene King said she was not surprised the route was axed by Air New Zealand. “Interregional travel is extraordinarily tricky, so I'm not surprised it hasn't come back,” King said. The former Air New Zealand staffer has long believed the airline needed to rationalise its fleet by retiring its Q300s and instead having all ATRs for its turboprop fleet. That would have resulted in some regions being abandoned because some airports could not support planes bigger than the Q300. However, Covid-19 had changed the situation and Air New Zealand could not afford to buy any more new ATRs, on top of the 27 in operation, because it was so short of cash, she said. “I don't think they've got the financial capability to retire the fleet.” The Q300s owed the airline no money and were good aircraft for subregional routes, she said. “I suspect they are making a decision to keep on running it for as long as they possibly can.” She doubted the Hamilton-Palmerston North route would have been profitable from a point to point basis but airlines could “slice profit about four different ways”. “It would have been making a contribution to the network but it would have been at the margins.” She thought Origin should be able to make the route work. The one area it could have difficulty with would be if one of its aircraft was grounded due to maintenance, she said. Around 30 years ago Air New Zealand had a number of interregional routes, one of the most successful being Queenstown-Mt Cook-Christchurch, she said. "That was a massively profitable operation because it carried Japanese tourists almost exclusively. "It had almost its own clientele and it made an amazing contribution.” 

I don't agree with all of this commentary above...

For my commentary see : http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2020/09/hamilton-palmerston-north-wellington.html

For a history of the Hamilton-Palmerston North route see: http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2020/09/the-death-of-air-new-zealands-last.html

Source : https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/122895099/the-air-new-zealand-domestic-route-that-didnt-survive-covid19-lockdown

No comments:

Post a Comment