Air New Zealand is offering free flights to Christchurch as the battle for the cheapest airfares reaches its nadir.

The move comes just days after Jetstar offered one-cent flights every day this week - a deal which came hot on the heels of Air NZ's offer of $7 tickets between Auckland and Wellington on late night flights in the week before Christmas.

Air NZ said 1500 free one-way airfares into and out of Christchurch would be available to customers travelling between November 12 and December 2.

The airline's Australasian group general manager Bruce Parton said the seat-only free tickets would be available this week on selected flights between 16 domestic airports and Christchurch.


He said the Christchurch economy needed support and there were plenty of people from outside Canterbury who would want to fly in before Christmas to shop for presents, catch up with friends or "just enjoy some of the great food and wine the region has to offer".

"We also recognise that a lot of Christchurch residents need to get away for a break but can't afford to."

Mr Parton signalled the airfare war was set to continue in the coming year, saying a "significant volume" of promotional fares would be on offer.

"Over the coming 12 months, Air NZ will have more than 2 million airfares available for less than $100.

"Kiwis can expect to be amazed by how cheaply they can connect with family, friends or business contacts, especially between the main centres where we have significant flight frequency."

Announcing the one-cent fares earlier this week, Jetstar group chief commercial officer David Koczkar said the airline was "committed to being the low fares leader in New Zealand".

"Jetstar has a proven business model to enable us to offer our customers consistently low everyday fares across our entire network, backed by our price beat guarantee," he said.

The one-cent flights cover the airline's entire domestic network of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin.

They went on sale on Monday and coincide with Jetstar's 100 millionth passenger milestone this week, Mr Koczkar said.