With the large numbers of tourists pouring into the country, Air New Zealand should be invigorating and reviving regional routes instead of axing them, New Zealand First says.
“The taxpayer propped up Air NZ when it was going belly up; now’s the time for the airline and the government to do the decent thing,” says New Zealand First Leader and Northland Member of Parliament Rt Hon Winston Peters.
“Last year Air NZ cut a group of regional flights; the Hamilton-Auckland flights were chopped this year and now they’ve rescheduled Kerikeri’s first morning flight to Auckland for a later inconvenient time which is not acceptable.
“The Minister of Transport has to show some moral fortitude and tell our national carrier, Air NZ, to step up to the mark.
“Since April last year Air NZ stopped all its services to Kaitaia, Whakatane and Westport.
“As well as this, flights between Whangarei and Wellington, Taupo and Wellington and Palmerston North to Nelson were cut. Whangarei also had its early morning flight to Auckland rescheduled from 7am to 7.55am.
“Places like Oamaru are crying out to have their air services revived and Invercargill people would love to have cheaper fares to make it more attractive for them to fly.
“Air NZ has a major slice of the inbound international business which is booming, so now is a good time for them to revive domestic routes.
“Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon said last week: ‘Whenever a competitor airline brings visitors into New Zealand that’s a good thing for Air New Zealand because we then pick up those passengers and disperse them throughout country.’
“Clearly that is wrong. Air NZ is pulling out and reducing services. As the national state-owned airline the government has a responsibility to ensure the airline serves all New Zealanders, and gives all regional towns a chance to prosper by delivering international visitors to their doorstep,” Mr Peters says.