Cap­i­tal flights start soon

Central Otago Mirror - - CONVERSATIONS -


Air New Zealand has in­tro­duced new Welling­ton busi­ness day flights to the de­light of Queen­stown busi­nesses, but placed re­stric­tions on the Christchurch route.

The changes in­cluded two new re­turn daily flights from Queen­stown to Welling­ton on jets.

How­ever, the first flight of the day from Queen­stown to Christchurch was changed from a jet to a smaller tur­bo­prop ATR.

The tur­bo­props are more likely to be can­celled in ad­verse weather con­di­tions as they are not equipped with Re­quired Nav­i­ga­tion Per­for­mance (RNP) tech­nol­ogy.

Two years ago the com­pany an­nounced it would in­stall RNP on its ATR fleet by 2018, but re­gional af­fairs man­ager Ian Col­lier said there had been ‘‘tech­ni­cal and reg­u­la­tory’’ hold ups.

‘‘We will cer­tainly be ready next win­ter. That should help with prob­lems on the first flight to Christchurch in win­ter.’’

It was a chal­lenge for the com­pany to get the right mix of air­craft on ev­ery route, Col­lier said.

‘‘The re­al­ity is the air­craft mix we’ve got is not go­ing to give us the per­fect an­swer this win­ter and it will be weather de­pen­dent ... For ev­ery move we make we get a cor­re­spond­ing groan from some­where.’’

The com­pany an­nounced the changes at a Queen­stown Chamber of Com­merce get- to­gether on Wed­nes­day night.

Queen­stown Chamber of Com­merce chief ex­ec­u­tive Anne Lock­hart said the or­gan­i­sa­tion had lob­bied for four years for a Welling­ton sched­ule that al­lowed peo­ple to fly to and from the cap­i­tal at ei­ther end of the busi­ness day.

The loss of a jet to Christchurch in win­ter was ‘‘a step back ... but I to­tally un­der­stand.’’

She urged Air NZ to con­tinue putting a ‘‘foot on the ac­cel­er­a­tor’’, but also to keep work­ing to meet the in­fra­struc­ture needs of com­mu­ni­ties whicho were strug­gling to cope with growth in visi­tor num­bers.

‘‘Not all growth is good. Some- one has to pay for it ... Our mes­sage to cen­tral gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to be [that we need] a con­tri­bu­tion from that very large visi­tor mar­ket.’’

Col­lier said: ‘‘The quicker we can move on it the bet­ter to en­sure there’s a fair sys­tem in place to ad­dress the is­sues we all have.’’

Air NZ gen­eral man­ager of net­works Kate O’Brien said there would be in­creased ca­pac­ity on trans-Tas­man routes into Queen­stown fol­low­ing the end of the Air NZ-Vi­ri­gin Aus­tralia al­liance in late Oc­to­ber, with 28 per­cent ca­pac­ity growth into Mel­bourne and nearly 60 per cent into Bris­bane.

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