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Invercargill air travel is not servicing local demand

Sarah Dowie
National MP for Invercargill

Media statement

19 May 2017

Survey shows Invercargill air travel is not servicing local demand

Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie and Venture Southland General Manager Stephen Canny welcome today’s results of their preliminary air travel survey and hope it will drive improvements in local air travel services.

Venture Southland and Sarah Dowie conducted the online survey which gathered information on frequency of travel, departure airport, chosen travel times, decision making processes and experiences with cancellations from Invercargill Airport.

651 people completed the online survey with the results showing Invercargill air travel is not meeting local demand as there is significant usage of other nearby airports.

“The survey confirms what I have been hearing from the public, that local air travel services could be better serviced from Invercargill airport" Sarah Dowie says.

The total number of return flights taken by respondents is estimated at 6,835. Of this, 43% (2,939) were flights that departed from other airports, such as Queenstown (61%) and Dunedin (36%).

Of those surveyed, 30% of respondents took 6-10 trips in the last 2 years, 11% took 4 trips and 10% took 11-15 trips. 55% of respondents departed from Invercargill between 1 and 4 times.

Price and the availability of connecting flights were the most common factors when respondents were choosing departing airports.

Suggestions about how local air travel could better serve travellers include offering cheaper airfares, airline competition, adjusting travel schedules and direct flights to Auckland and Australia.

Further results from the survey also showed 29% of respondents experienced flight cancellations in the last 2 years. Of these, 85% experienced between 1-3 cancellations. Business travellers were more likely to depart from Invercargill Airport compared those travelling to visit friends and relatives, for holidays or to attend events.

The survey will act as a litmus test to identify the key challenges and air travel opportunities and will underpin a detailed investigation into Invercargill air travel which will be conducted by Impact Consulting. This information will be used to create alternative air travel business models and advocate for better air travel services.

“We need to make our city more accessible if we want to continue to grow. Air New Zealand’s extension of the business day to Auckland has been well received. However, it is time Air New Zealand and other airlines acknowledge local demand for more cost effective flights and linked services.” Dowie says

“We should not be driving for hours to simply catch a flight when we have a fully functioning airport and demand to fill services.” Dowie says.
Stephen Canny welcomes the further research that will be built upon this information and says “the survey gives us data to prove that there is demand for air travel services to improve in Invercargill. Better information makes our case to change air travel services stronger and this survey is a firm base for more in-depth research.”

"The Southland Regional Development Strategy highlights the need to enhance our local economy and grow our tourism industry. A principal way this will be achieved is by making Invercargill more accessible through the development of our air travel services.” Canny says.

Dowie and Canny will now be liaising with Air New Zealand and others over the findings pending the results from the more qualitative research to be undertaken.

ENDS

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