Air New Zealand is increasing its international capacity by 4.9 per cent and domestic capacity by 3.8 per cent as it starts to see a recovery in air travel.

The increase in international capacity was for the upcoming northern winter 2010 schedule.

From November 2010 to March 2011 capacity to San Francisco will rise 17.9 per cent, Vancouver 7.9 per cent and Los Angeles 4 per cent. Capacity on the Japan routes will increase by 6.7 per cent, while United Kingdom and China services remain unchanged. The long-haul capacity increases are primarily through increased frequency.

"We are seeing a slow, but definite sign of a recovery from the reduction in travel in 2009, however these are still 13 per cent below levels in 2008," said deputy chief executive Norm Thompson.

Tasman seat capacity was being increased by 10.2 per cent on 2009 levels, although still down by 6.6 per cent on the same period in 2008.

Domestic capacity will rise 3.8 per cent across the network.

Meanwhile, rival Pacific Blue announced yesterday that it would begin a permanent fourth weekly flight between Auckland and Rarotonga starting in July, adding over 9000 extra seats to the route each year.

Pacific Blue chief executive Mark Pitt said the airline trialled a fourth weekly flight over the summer holiday season and the extra service had attracted good loads.

To celebrate the announcement of a fourth service the airline is offering a special one-way internet fare of $229 direct from Auckland to Rarotonga subject to availability.