Air New Zealand will broaden the range of wine in premium cabins as it pushes back on claims it is being stingy topping up glasses in the back of the plane.

Passengers have complained in several letters to the Herald's Travel magazine that the airline of holding back on wine during flights, one questioning whether it wanted to be known as "the Scrooge of the sky."

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However, the airlines chief operations officer Bruce Parton said nothing had changed in the past few months with the approach to serving wine and volumes had increased slightly during the past few months.


While the airline's own complaints log had shown no increase in complaints about beverage or food, Parton said some passengers on short flights across the Tasman may only get one wine service because with a tailwind the flight time was as short as two hours and 28 minutes.

"By the time we take off and land we'll get one run through - it's just a timing thing."

A head wind added an hour to the crossing which meant there was time for another service, Parton said.

The airline now had a sole supplier in economy - the Villa Maria stable - and this had allowed it to simplify its process and make savings.

"We're spending more - we're investing another $5 million food and wine throughout the country," he said.

The airline would soon announce ways it would broaden the range of wine in business class beyond those submitted to the awards it sponsors every year, said head of procurement, Anna Palairet.

"The problem we found with that is that only about 30 per cent of the industry submit their wine through that forum.

"Not only we're we not seeing a wide enough spectrum from that pool, the industry was upset because they didn't have the opportunity to submit their wine to us," she said.

The airline has appointed two leading international wine judges and commentators to help select its wine and help promote New Zealand labels overseas. One is based in California and the other in China.

Air New Zealand serves about one million bottles of wine a year and Parton said Sauvignon Blanc was the most popular wine but increasing amounts of Chardonnay was being drunk.