Com­pe­ti­tion plan for air­port bus

Upper Hutt Leader - - FRONT PAGE - AM­BER-LEIGH WOOLF

A new bus ser­vice from the Hutt Val­ley to Welling­ton Air­port could cre­ate some com­pe­ti­tion for the cap­i­tal’s ex­ist­ing bus ser­vices.

SkyBus has ex­pressed an in­ter­est in open­ing such a ser­vice.

If suc­cess­ful, the route would be in com­pe­ti­tion with the Hutt Val­ley Air­port Flyer op­er­ated by NZ Bus, which looked at end­ing the ser­vice ear­lier this year.

SkyBus chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael Se­wards said ini­tial work on the ser­vice had in­cluded the air­port con­nec­tion to Lower Hutt.

‘‘SkyBus has a strong level of in­ter­est in pur­su­ing the de­vel­op­ment of a ser­vice for this im­por­tant and grow­ing city and air­port.’’

The com­pany al­ready has buses in Auckland, Mel­bourne and the Gold Coast.

Ini­tial views were that the new ser­vice would in­clude a ‘‘sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment’’ in a new fleet, he said.

That would in­clude wifi, dig­i­tal tick­et­ing so­lu­tions and com- pe­t­i­tive pric­ing, in­clud­ing their ‘‘kids travel free’’ pol­icy, he said.

‘‘Our ini­tial work on this new mar­ket op­por­tu­nity has in­cluded the air­port con­nec­tion to the Lower Hutt area.

‘‘We hope to have fur­ther up­dates as to the progress of our en­quiries in due course.’’

SkyBus has op­er­ated air­port con­nec­tions in Aus­tralia and New Zealand for 40 years. The Auckland and Mel­bourne ser­vices are 24/7 in fre­quency.

In July, SkyBus plans to launch an Air­port Ex­press ser­vice to Auckland’s North Shore.

NZ Bus chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer Scott Thorne said he was not will­ing to dis­cuss how a SkyBus al­ter­na­tive would af­fect the ser­vice.

Welling­ton Mayor Justin Lester said a the new ser­vice would bring com­pe­ti­tion to the city.

‘‘Hope­fully it will lead to more fre­quent ser­vice, com­pet­i­tive pric­ing, and in­creased con­sumer choice.’’

Hutt City Coun­cil­lor Camp­bell Barry, who cam­paigned to save the Air­port Flyer, said it was pos­i­tive SkyBus had ex­pressed their in­ter­est.

It would pro­vide a so­lu­tion for a Hutt Val­ley to the air­port con­nec­tion if the Air­port Flyer was to close, he said.

‘‘There’s quite a lot of un­cer­tainty there. We’re cer­tainly work­ing with them [NZ Bus] to make sure that ser­vice stays.’’

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