Air NZ to expand jet fleet into regional NZ
11 January 2008
Air New Zealand to expand jet fleet into regional New Zealand
Air New Zealand said today that Invercargill, Hamilton, Dunedin and Palmerston North are being considered for Boeing 737 domestic jet services, to provide regional customers with more daily capacity.
Group General Manager Short Haul Airlines Bruce Parton says discussions about the potential new services are commencing with airports and local authorities.
Mr Parton says Air New Zealand last year signalled its ongoing commitment to more services for regional New Zealand and is currently securing two additional 737 series aircraft to enable it to offer prime-time jet services to at least two of the provincial centres.
He says the final decision on which of the cities will be offered the six-month jet trials will be based on customer demand and the level of support that can be gained from the regions.
“A number of provincial centres want prime-time domestic 737 flights to target greater numbers of business travellers into their region,” he says.
“Jet services will be trialled for six months, giving us a reasonable amount of time to gauge our customers’ appetite for them, and assess their ongoing sustainability. It is critical that all parties work together to make the trial a success including the local communities seeking to attract an influx of business customers.”
Under the trial, jet aircraft will operate at least five days a week, with jet and turboprop capacity carefully balanced to ensure frequency of service isn’t sacrificed, Mr Parton says.
“With this jet capacity coming into the regional market we may look to make adjustments to the turboprop fleet.”
The introduction of jets into provincial New Zealand will help stimulate regional tourism, and provide a boon for business travellers, he says, as well as benefiting the
broader travelling public.
The new initiative will bring Air New Zealand’s 737 fleet up to 18 dedicated domestic 737 aircraft, compared with the 14 aircraft being operated only a few months ago.
“The addition of two extra aircraft to our jet fleet will also provide Air New Zealand with greater flexibility to respond to, and recover from any disruption on main trunk sectors,” Mr Parton says.
“Our business customers in particular highly value on-time performance and have noted our improvements in this area over the past 12 months. We aim to ensure we continue to offer the best on-time performance.”
Air New Zealand will make its decision within the next two months, with the new services expected to commence by the middle of the year.