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Current as of 26/05/15 07:39PM NZST

Air NZ makes money from empty seats

By Grant Bradley

Passengers on partly full Air New Zealand flights to the United States can guarantee an empty seat next to them - if they're prepared to pay $75.

The airline's novel way of making money out of empty seats during the long-haul travel slump has proved popular during a month-long trial.

Air New Zealand group general manager international airlines Ed Sims said it took the lottery out of whether or not passengers get an empty seat next to them.

Like other carriers, Air New Zealand has been hit with a steep fall in passenger numbers as a result of the financial crisis. The airline has been forced to lay off up to 200 staff.

"Necessity is the mother of invention. While we've got some empty seats we'd rather be making something out of that seat than nothing at all," said Mr Sims.

The airline started the scheme just over a month ago on flights to San Francisco and Los Angeles. Up to 10 passengers a flight had opted for the extra seat which could be offered on more international routes, he said.

Passengers were offered the extra seat at check-in when flight numbers were finalised.

- NZ Herald

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