Use or lose daily air service

By John Maslin

3 comments

More bums on seats is the way to secure a constant daily air service in and out of Whanganui.

Mayor Annette Main said that was the simple arithmetic that needed to be applied to ensure Air New Zealand maintained its services between Whanganui and Auckland and block any need to reduce services.

The airline has already confirmed it is cutting its daily flights from late March next year, when it will introduce two outward and two inward flights, seven days a week.

An Air New Zealand spokesman said the transition from three daily services on the Whanganui-Auckland route was in line with similar changes made around the country as the airline moved from the 19-seat Beechcraft 1900D planes to the 50-seater Bombardier Q300s.

Ms Main she had spoken directly to Air New Zealand when she learned of the pending changes.

"I can understand the need for Air New Zealand to apply business logic to filling two return flights rather than having three with excess capacity.

So for our community the challenge is to use the flights we have and reduce the need for the airline to make any further reductions to services in 2017," she said.

Ms Main said travellers needed to remember that travelling from Whanganui to Auckland takes at least one and-a-half hours less than flying from Palmerston North.

"That includes the driving time to Palmerston North, the check-in time and cost of paying for expensive long-term parking at that airport.

"I can understand that people prefer the larger planes now on our route - so now that we have them, let's use them as much as possible," she said.

A spokesman said the airline was continually reviewing its network schedule to ensure it was matching capacity with demand.

"For Whanganui, that means adjusting the frequency of services, while still increasing overall seat capacity," he said.

From March 26 next year, the northbound flights will leave Whanganui at 6.30am and again at 4.05pm. The return flights are scheduled to leave Auckland at 2.35pm and again at 6.45pm.

Air New Zealand said the changes were mainly because the Q300 aircraft had increased seat capacity by 25 per cent and, with more seats, fewer flights were needed.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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