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Whisper Jets Pressed Into Service

Whisper Jets Pressed into Service to Satisfy Domestic Demand

Mon 21 May 2001

Air New Zealand has announced that at least four of the BAE 146 aircraft, most recently used by the failed Qantas New Zealand airline, will be put into service to add extra capacity on domestic routes.

Announcing the move today, Air New Zealand's President and CEO, Gary Toomey said airline executives travelled the country last week listening to concerns raised by civic and business leaders about the heavy demand for airline travel since the collapse of Qantas New Zealand.

The collapse of Qantas New Zealand four weeks ago meant that about 30 percent of airline capacity in New Zealand disappeared over-night and the shortfall in supply has been filled by Air New Zealand using its existing fleet. By the end of this month Air New Zealand will have flown about 2000 extra flights and put more than 50-thousand extra airline seats into the domestic market.

"By introducing the BAE 146s Air New Zealand will be able to more comfortably service the important tourism centres of Rotorua and Queenstown as well as the needs of business travellers in the main centres, including Dunedin and Christchurch," said Mr Toomey.

"We listened to what the local communities were telling us about the extra demand for seats and decided the introduction of the BAE 146's was the best answer for the immediate future," said Mr Toomey.

The jets will be flown between Auckland and Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch, Auckland and Dunedin, Auckland and Queenstown, Christchurch and Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin Christchurch and Rotorua and Christchurch and Queenstown.

The first jet is expected to be in service within a month subject to regulatory and safety approvals being obtained, the next within a week and the other two coming on stream as soon as possible after that. The airline will also be employing about an extra 100 flight and cabin crew as well as additional engineering staff familiar with the 146s. It is anticipated a large number of those positions will be offered to former Qantas New Zealand staff

"Even though the aircraft are not part of our normal fleet type, we made the decision to keep them here because of the very strong passenger demand around the country. It will require a considerable investment from the airline in training, recruitment and licensing, but we think its worth the effort to keep airline travellers in New Zealand well served," Mr Toomey said.

The introduction of the jets will free up other aircraft in the Air New Zealand domestic fleet which will be used to extend services in other cities. Invercargill will be served by an additional ATR turbo-prop return flight to Christchurch. Hamilton will also be served with another ATR Wellington return flight.

The Air New Zealand group owns the BAE 146 aircraft and leased them to Tasman Pacific to provide the Qantas New Zealand services.

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