Air New Zealand is seeking to avoid a post-Christmas/New Year lull with new low fares for the post-holiday season.
The airline is offering $49 one-way fares from Auckland to Napier, Gisborne or Kerikeri, with best availability from January 11.
After coming under fire on social media for Auckland-Wellington flights that cost more than $400 at peak times, Air NZ pledged that 550,000 seats will be available for under $100 for travel between December and February.
The airline's chief customer and sales officer, Leanne Geraghty, said the cheap flights were due to better-than-expected pre-Christmas and business travel demand.
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The airline has been running at about 75 per cent of its pre-Covid domestic schedule and this will further boost that. Around the world, few domestic markets are running at such high capacity with the exception of China, which this month had slightly more domestic capacity than at the same time last year, according to OAG.
Auckland Airport expects domestic flights to run at about two-thirds of what they were at last summer.
"We want to make sure Kiwis can get to where they need to be in this busy Christmas period, so we'll be progressively adding around 16,000 new seats for travel in December," said Geraghty.
"As always, we recommend getting in early to take advantage of our lowest fares. Naturally, demand is higher for travel at certain times of the day - for example, first thing in the morning. By flying at different times of the day, customers will find more fare options available."
Geraghty said demand post-Covid was far more variable than before the pandemic, with bookings often being made very late and flights selling out.
"We've been adding capacity wherever possible, which makes more seats available at lower fares. In November we added more than 26,000 seats to the network for travel in the same month, either by adding new flights or deploying larger aircraft on existing routes."