'High level' talks scheduled to retain early morning flight

By Lindy Laird

1 comment

Far North folk are vowing to fight to retain the early morning Air New Zealand flight from Kerikeri to Auckland.

Air NZ has announced that from October it will ground the popular 6.55am flight out of Kerikeri, rescheduling it to 9.15am, and reshuffle some other flight times, too.

Far North mayor John Carter said "high level" talks were planned between the district council, other stakeholders and Air NZ over the move.

"At that higher level, we've already had some productive and preliminary talks," Mr Carter said.

He said he doubted the airline would continue with plans to change the time of the first flight out of Kerikeri to 9.10am.

"If it were going to happen, I'd be very concerned," he said.

"Any reduction of service anywhere isn't helpful.

"But we respect the fact they're a commercial firm and they need to make decisions based on their own interests."

The 6.55am flight is a vital link, ensuring Far North people get an early start in Auckland for business, personal appointments or further travel, Mr Carter said.

Northland Inc chief executive David Wilson said local business and development sectors had been concerned for some time about the flight schedule to Whangarei, and the perceived frequency of delayed or cancelled flights.

Business leaders and regional advocates were "negotiating" with Air NZ about its Northland schedules, Mr Wilson said.

"The problem we've got is that every regional centre wants planes that will land in Auckland by 8.30am in the morning."

A Kerikeri Facebook page has been launched calling for feedback on Air NZ's plans, and has a survey asking how often people use the 6.55am flight and the impact personally or on business should the change take place.

"With this information we can present a strong case to AIRNZ ensure (sic) this critical link to connecting flights for business & private travellers is retained," the Facebook page reads.

Air NZ said the airline had closely analysed the flow of passengers to ensure it provided the best possible connectivity to, from and through Auckland for customers in Kerikeri.

The airline said it appreciated local feedback and would continue to work with stakeholders to explore alternative options.

- Northern Advocate

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