Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Hamilton loses last international flight with Virgin move

Virgin Australia is pulling the plug on its international flights from Hamilton to Brisbane from the end of October.

The airline, formerly Pacific Blue, which stepped into the gap left when Air New Zealand cancelled its international flights from Hamilton International Airport in April 2009 has also failed to attract the number of passengers to make it viable.

The airport board had called an emergency meeting of its five shareholding councils - Hamilton City Council, Waitomo District Council, Matamata-Piako District Council, Waikato District Council and Waipa District Council - for 7.30am tomorrow morning to break the news to them.

But Hamilton Airport management confirmed today that Virgin Australia notified the airport it was canning its flights last Friday. The last flight will be on October 27.

The departure of the international carrier will have a significant impact on the airport's revenue and will result in the closure of the Hamilton Duty Free Store and its customs service.

Virgin Australia New Zealand executive general manager Mark Pitt, said demand for this service has deteriorated and the service was losing the company money.

Hamilton Airport chief executive Chris Doak said Virgin Australia notified the airport management of their decision last Friday.

"The nub of the matter is if more people used Virgin services then Virgin would stay."

While it was disappointing for the region, he was confident the airport would still be able to remain profitable.

"All of our associated revenues from international services will obviously end but even with that we would maintain to project our profit going forward." He said the development of the commercial business park Titanium Park should allow the airport to maintain its profitably.

In March, Virgin Australia decreased the number of flights between Hamilton and Brisbane from four to three a week due to softened demand. The company also indicated it would have to re-evaluate demand for the service if people didn't use it.

Virgin Australia will be contacting passengers who have booked on services from or to Hamilton after October 27 to discuss alternative travel arrangements. The airline is currently offering a special deal on flights from Hamilton to Brisbane for $169 one-way until May 2013.

- NZ Herald

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