Travellers between Tauranga and Christchurch, and Invercargill and Wellington, are the big winners in Air New Zealand's latest boost to domestic capacity.
More than 9500 additional seats per week were being added across its regional network and main jet routes, as signs appeared of an anticipated recovery in demand for domestic travel. New flight schedules have gone on sale for travel from early February.
Flights between Christchurch and Tauranga were increasing from five to 11 return services a week. Group general manager Australasia Bruce Parton said the extra flights at peak times were a response to customer feedback, and would provide for same-day travel by business travellers. Capacity between Invercargill and Wellington was up 63 per cent, with direct flights between the two centres rising from once a day to double daily on weekdays.
The additional services meant Air NZ was reducing journey time by at least 45 minutes each way, as passengers would not need to transit in Christchurch.
A Sunday service was also being added to the New Plymouth to Christchurch routes, and a larger aircraft meant capacity increases on services between Palmerston North and Auckland, Napier and Auckland, and Palmerston North and Christchurch.
Changes were also being made to services between Queenstown and Christchurch, with flight times being adjusted to enable additional connections with transtasman services out of Christchurch.