Air NZ has bowed to pressure from Northlanders and has introduced flights from Whangārei to Wellington to bypass Auckland while the city is in level 3 lockdown.
The airline introduced a temporary service from Kerikeri earlier this month so people could bypass Auckland as the lockdown limited access to Auckland Airport.
The flights were popular, but led to many Northlanders asking for similar flights from Whangārei.
In a statement on Tuesday afternoon the company said following the success of the Wellington to Kerikeri service, to keep Northland connected with the rest of the country, it will add an additional temporary service between Whangārei and Wellington from September 29 and October 5.
Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai welcomed the new flights.
"We are delighted that Air NZ has been willing to look at ways to provide temporary flights between key cities while the country remains at split alert levels. These flights will keep residents in Northland connected with the rest of the country, while also giving local tourists the opportunity to visit us for a short break and help boost our economy," Mai said.
The airline will run a direct daily service between the Onerahi airport and the capital using its Q300 turboprop fleet, using the aircraft operating between Auckland and Whangārei to optimise connectivity. Air NZ previously had direct Whangārei to Wellington flights but stopped them around seven years ago
Air NZ Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty said that when the airline was looking at which Northland airports it could operate longer flights from, Kerikeri provided the quickest solution for its customers.
"Flights from Northland to the capital require additional fuel and Kerikeri Airport has the operational capacity to support our requirements. With an increased demand for flights from Northland, we have looked at where else we could add more seats,''Geraghty said.
"On a temporary basis, we have found a solution that will allow us to fly both the Auckland to Whangārei route as well as a Wellington to Whangārei route."
With Auckland at alert level 3 this week, the company is extending its temporary service between Wellington and Kerikeri from September 29 until October 5.
Should Auckland stay in alert level 3 for longer, Air New Zealand will look at extending these Northland services.
There will be one return flight a day, leaving Whangārei at 12.25pm and returning at 4.40pm.