SkyBus has confirmed it will indefinitely suspend its Auckland Airport
Express service to the city.
The service has been paused since August 20, just days after the city went into level 4 lockdown after the latest border failure came when vaccination rates were low.
SkyBus relies on international passengers and says there had been a drop in passenger numbers of over 80 per cent since March 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic led to border closures.
This has resulted in the service - owned by Australian bus operator Kinetic - operating at an unsustainable level, with significant financial losses being incurred each month, the company said.
The Herald last week reported it was likely the service would end.
The decision was not taken lightly, said Calum Haslop, head of Kinetic in New Zealand.
It followed consultation with both employees and key stakeholders, including Auckland Transport and Auckland Airport.
"We have 50 dedicated and passionate team members who have built this business into what it is today, and we have invested over $35 million in new vehicles and operations,'' he said.
"Our business does not receive any of the normal subsidies that other urban bus services enjoy, and therefore its only source of income is from passenger fares.''
Up until last year, it operated two high-frequency routes that ran around the clock at peak.
In an attempt to ensure the business remained sustainable in the face of ongoing global travel restrictions, it made multiple changes over the last 17 months, including route changes, reducing frequency of services and lower fares.
"Unfortunately, with Auckland in lockdown yet again and no end in sight for border restrictions, we simply can't continue to operate the service," said Haslop.
"We also don't underestimate the impact our decision will have on both travellers and airport staff who rely heavily on SkyBus to get to Auckland Airport, day in and day out. We thank them for their loyalty and support, and sincerely hope that we can re-emerge when conditions change."
The decision that SkyBus will not recommence when Auckland comes out of lockdown was made yesterday following a period of consultation earlier in September, and having given due consideration to all the feedback received from staff and key stakeholders.
SkyBus will however reassess the viability of reintroducing both services over the longer term when all border restrictions for international passengers are finally removed.
All affected staff will receive their full entitlements and support has been provided to assist them with this transition. Wherever possible, they will be offered positions in other parts of the Kinetic group of companies in New Zealand, including Go Bus and Johnston's Coachlines.
SkyBus Auckland Airport airside operations between the domestic and international terminals remain unaffected.