Air New Zealand's chairwoman says the airline is disappointed that rival Jetstar has cut regional flights.

Speaking to MPs this morning, Dame Therese Walsh said it was better for New Zealanders when there was more competition.

"But it does demonstrate that the economics of flying in all areas, but particularly in the regions, is challenging."

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In September, Jetstar announced it would axe its regional flights within New Zealand in November.

This was expected to impact 130 return services a week during peak season, including Auckland and Nelson, Napier, New Plymouth and Palmerston North, Nelson and Wellington.

At the time, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said he was "immensely disappointed" with the move.

He also challenged Air NZ not to use Jetstar's withdrawal as an opportunity to "gouge" regional air travellers.

"Air New Zealand has historically challenged anyone who creates a meaningful presence in the regions but it must not be tempted to ramp up gouging activity."

Air NZ's chairwoman Dame Therese Walsh said it was better for New Zealanders when there is more competition. Photo / Dean Purcell.
Air NZ's chairwoman Dame Therese Walsh said it was better for New Zealanders when there is more competition. Photo / Dean Purcell.

But Walsh this morning doubled down on the company's promise not to change the entry-level fairs until the end of next year.

In fact, she said Air NZ had added an additional almost 50,000 seats on Jetstar affected routes between December and March – "that's a significant number".

She said Air NZ had put in place a number of initiatives as a result of the Jetstar exit from some of its routes, "to do as much as we can to assist".

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For example, people that were booked on Jetstar flights that were cancelled, Air NZ offered a special rate.

"On the Jetstar side of things, we're doing quite a lot to make sure we're ensuring the capacity is there and that we're assisting in that process."