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Air New Zealand cancels two regional routes blaming low demand

Monday 30th May 2016

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Air New Zealand is to close two regional routes, Whanganui to Auckland and Blenheim to Christchurch, from the end of July. 

The move follows Air New Zealand's decision in 2014 to retire its unprofitable 19-seat Beech aircraft fleet and introduce the 50-seat Q300 aircraft. At the time it announced the suspension of unviable regional routes and said it would work with other regional centres to try to stimulate demand to fill the bigger aircraft. 

In a statement, the airline said the two routes didn't have sufficient demand to sustain a 50-seat service and so they would be suspended on July 31. 

Air New Zealand general manager of networks Richard Thompson said Jetstar's flights from nearby Palmerston North had changed the market dynamics of the Whanganui to Auckland route.

"The greater number of destinations, higher frequency of service and wider range of connecting options on offer at the neighbouring airport have unfortunately served to undermine demand for Whanganui services and we’ve seen customers effectively voting with their feet and using Palmerston North rather than Whanganui Airport," he said.

Thompson added that they had halved the average fare to try to stimulate demand. Air New Zealand said the route had been marginal when it was reviewed in 2014. 

The decision to close the Blenheim to Christchurch is also blamed on insufficient demand. However, services from Blenheim to Auckland and Christchurch are to be increased. Air New Zealand say an additional 35,000 seats will be available on these services in the year to the end of June 2017. 

Customers booked on either service are being offered either a full reform or the option of travelling from another airport.

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