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Cruise balloon stunt follows Air NZ’s trans-Tasman snub

October 9, 2013 Destination Global, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Air New Zealand has snubbed Wellington, New Zealand’s quirky and charming capital, by announcing it will cut back trans-Tasman flights between the city and Australia.

Just as Wellington was recovering from that news, the city was deluged in blue balloons, a cruise-ship-related stunt that critics have labelled idiotic and dangerous. More on the balloons later.Excellence250X250px

Air New Zealand will drop an occasional third daily return flight from Wellington to Sydney in January, and in February it will cut back its daily return flight to Melbourne from seven days a week to six, Wellington’s Dominion Post newspaper has reported.

An Air NZ spokesman told the paper that flights from Australia into Wellington carried, on average, 5% fewer passengers than those into Auckland or Christchurch. Against that, however, a Wellington Airport spokesman said its trans-Tasman passenger numbers had grown more than 18% over the past three years.

Statistics New Zealand figures show the number of Australians flying into Wellington grew from 114,000 in 2010 to 134,000 last year.

Wellington is keen to attract more international flights. In May, Wellington City Council voted to spend NZD 1 million to help Wellington Airport apply to lengthen its runway by 300 metres, figuring that although a longer runway would take five to seven years to build, it would help to attract long-haul flights to the city.

Mayoral candidate John Morrison told the Dominion Post the airline’s decision was a “body blow” to Wellington’s already stagnating economy.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated incident connected with cruising rather than flying, someone released 2500 blue balloons over a major central Wellington street on Monday, a stunt labelled idiotic and dangerous.

Dropped all at once from Wellington’s InterContinental Hotel, the balloons floated down into lunchtime traffic.

The stunt, the Dominion Post reported, was to celebrate the arrival of Radiance of the Seas, the first cruise ship to visit Wellington this season. It was also to promote a new business called CruiseBubble, which aims to use social media to advertise directly to cruise passengers.

CruiseBubble had apparently received permission to release the balloons from Wellington City Council, Police, and Airways New Zealand, but social media users slammed the stunt, the paper reported, saying it was dangerous in traffic and could affect marine life when hundreds of balloons blew into the harbour.

Written by : Peter Needham

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