Far North Mayor John Carter has welcomed Air New Zealand's change of heart regarding the flight schedule for the Kerikeri to Auckland route.

Air NZ announced last week it would not pursue plans to replace the 6.55am Kerikeri to Auckland flight with a 9.15am service from October. Instead, the first weekday flight to Auckland will be at 6am. The airline also plans to change the departure time of its last flight from Auckland to Kerikeri from the current 6.55pm to 7.35pm.

Mr Carter said the new schedule is great for businesses and the public, and will allow Far North people to do a full day's business in Auckland without staying overnight. It will also allow them to connect with early flights out of Auckland, improving connectivity with New Zealand and the world, he said. Mr Carter said Air NZ listened to locals who said changing the first departure time would disadvantage the Far North. "We have been quietly lobbying Air New Zealand after considering feedback from stakeholders and are delighted with the new schedule."

Far North Holdings CEO Andy Nock said the outcome is the result of an excellent working relationship with Air NZ.

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"We meet with each other on a regular basis and are always looking at ways we can proactively promote and encourage growth of business and tourism passenger numbers." Growth of 31 per cent in passenger numbers is forecast for the route this year, 21,000 more passengers than last year. Mr Nock said Air NZ was committed to maintaining that growth.

-Flight frustration:

See letters, page 6