Monday, 29 June 2009

Pacific Blue latest to cut NZ flights

While Aussie budget airline Jetstar has had a "horror start" to its New Zealand operations, its arrival will put added pressure on the incumbent local carriers.

Jetstar has already re-jigged its schedules, after finding its original turnarounds were a little too tight, leaving passengers on the tarmac and creating flight delays. The airline replaces the old full-service flights provided by Qantas, servicing Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown.

Meanwhile, Pacific Blue is cutting back its domestic capacity by around 13% from August 1, with planes being redeployed to new trans-tasman routes from Hamilton, Dunedin, and Queenstown.

The cuts follow similar capacity cutbacks by Air New Zealand, in response to a drop in passengers.

The national carrier flew almost 10% fewer passengers last month compared to May last year. Air NZ is aiming to keep load factors and profitability up by capacity cuts, with further reviews of its regional airlines currently underway.

Pacific Blue is axing its single daily service between Dunedin and Christchurch (return), but replacing it with a new direct Dunedin-Auckland service.
This jet service (Boeing 737-800) will probably have wider appeal especially for southern business travellers, with the majority of Air NZ flights in and out of Dunedin Airport on the unpopular ATR turboprops, which means inconvenient stopovers enroute in Christchurch or Wellington.

However there will also be a drop in the number of services between Auckland and Wellington (cut from 27 to 19 a week), and Wellington-Christchurch (cut from 19 to 12 flights a week). Pacific Blue will also drop some trans-tasman flights from Christchurch and Auckland from September.

* NZ Herald: Pacific Blue cuts back
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