Air New Zealand remains committed to South Island tourism

Air New Zealand remains firmly committed to supporting the Christchurch and South Island tourism industry and will continue to work with local stakeholders to ensure the airline supports the regional economic development strategy through the next stage of the Christchurch rebuild.
31 March 2015

The airline has today announced that it will no longer operate a seasonal Tokyo to Christchurch service this northern winter and will instead concentrate on the existing year round Tokyo to Auckland service which will be operated exclusively by the airline’s new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft from the end of August.

Air New Zealand’s Chief Sales and Commercial Officer Cam Wallace says, “We accept this is disappointing for Christchurch tourism stakeholders, however, the Tokyo-Auckland service is deliberately timed to arrive into Auckland in the morning so that tourists can easily connect to Christchurch and other South Island destinations.  Departing flights to Tokyo are also timed to enable same day connections from Christchurch and beyond.”

Mr Wallace says the Tokyo-Christchurch service accounts for just 0.3% of total seats into Christchurch. “In FY16 Air New Zealand will operate 250,000 more seats into Christchurch than in this financial year. This growth will come from a mix of domestic and trans-Tasman services.  We’re committed to continuing our seasonal trans-Tasman alliance service between Christchurch and Perth as well as significant capacity growth on other trans-Tasman and domestic services.”

Mr Wallace says the decision follows research undertaken in Japan with consumers and the travel trade. “There was no clear preference to fly into Christchurch.  In fact, since we moved to daily Tokyo-Auckland flights our experience is that customers are increasingly choosing to arrive in Auckland rather than Christchurch.”

The transition to the new 787-9, while offering a much improved customer experience for travellers, also presents some operational challenges.  Mr Wallace says that not only is it more expensive to fly the extra distance to Christchurch, the aircraft then has to be re-positioned to Auckland to continue operating its scheduled services. 

This flight has previously been operated as a domestic Christchurch-Auckland service, but as the 787-9 cannot operate to the Auckland domestic terminal this will no longer be possible as the aircraft would need to be repositioned empty adding to the overall cost of operating to Christchurch.

Ends

Issued by Air New Zealand Public Affairs ph +64 21 747 320