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Air New Zealand has plans to offer more than 40,000 additional seats a year, as well as a less complex and more consistent daily schedule for customers.

Air New Zealand's plans for Gisborne

18 May 2016, Andrew Ashton, The Gisborne Herald

Lower fares expected as national carrier intends to introduce thousands more seats on Auckland and Wellington routes.

NEW Zealand’s national carrier is this year increasing the seating capacity on its two Gisborne routes by more than can fit into Auckland’s Mount Smart stadium — and air fares are expected to fall as a result.

An Air New Zealand spokeswoman has confirmed to The Gisborne Herald that it plans to introduce thousands of additional seats for both the Gisborne to Auckland and Gisborne to Wellington routes.

“Over the coming months Air NZ will introduce a revised schedule for Gisborne services, delivering more than 40,000 additional seats per annum, as well as a less complex and more consistent daily schedule for customers.

“From late October the Auckland-Gisborne schedule will see up to five additional weekly Q300 services, growing market capacity around 15 percent (year-on-year).”

The airline will also introduce a revised schedule from August 9 for Wellington-Gisborne services, to reflect the transition from 19-seat Beech aircraft to 50-seat Q300s, with up to three daily services Monday to Friday.

“The new schedule will see year-on-year capacity increase 70 percent, and balanced business day timings and increased connectivity options.

“Adding such a large number of extra seats on to the Gisborne routes naturally flows through into customers enjoying more low-priced fares — because more seats will be available at the lowest entry-level fare and because some market stimulation will be needed to create additional demand to fill the extra seats.”

Activate Tairawhiti welcomes announcement

Activate Tairawhiti chief executive Steve Breen welcomes the move.

“It’s great to see the new Q300s coming into service on the Wellington route. We’ve seen the uplift in demand they have had on the Auckland service and look forward to seeing the same on the Wellington route.”

Tourism Eastland chief executive Stuart Perry expects introduction of the Q300 to the Wellington-Gisborne route to have a positive impact on visitor flows.

“From a visitor industry perspective, the Wellington market is considered high-yield. With more than 20,000 extra seats per annum, that could have a very significant impact on our visitor economy.

“We will be talking to operators, event organisers and Air NZ about packaging up quality offerings to entice Wellingtonians to come here for that special Gizzy experience.”

Mr Perry said the additional capacity would also be very good for business travel, which was a key to boosting opportunities in the conference market.

Gisborne Chamber of Commerce president Gavin Murphy said he was pleased Air NZ had responded to customer calls for cheaper airfares with the introduction of the Q300 on the Wellington sector. Mr Murphy said it was a more efficient and cost effective aircraft with greater seat capacity, which in turn would drive down price.

"While it starts with less flight per day, experience on the Auckland sector is that the Q300 is well supported by business and leisure travellers and flight numbers will increase over time. We are also pleased to see the addition of more flights and therefore greater flexibility on the Auckland sector, for those travelling to and from the region on business.”

The changes will mean that from October 30, weekday flights between Auckland and Gisborne will increase from four to five (each way), with Saturday flights changing from three (each way) to two flights into Gisborne and four flights from Gisborne to Auckland.

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