21 May 2016

What's going on???

It's been a while since I wrote my thoughts on what's going on in the regional scene. The news that Kerikeri and Whangarei are losing overnighting flights has prompted me to think somewhat about these centres.

The news that Kerikeri and Whangarei are loosing their overnight Air New Zealand services meaning a later departure from the Northland centres to Auckland and with earlier late evening return services is a major blow to Northland business traffic. One wonders what Air New Zealand's motivation is. Perhaps it is the saving of not having to pay overnight accommodation for the crews? Or perhaps the Q300s are being deployed elsewhere to battle Jetstar. Whatever the reasons Air New Zealand seems to be going back to a Friendship-days mentality of providing services to the provinces when they have got aircraft spare. They have already cut services to Westport, Whakatane and Kaitaia and links between Auckland and Hamilton and Taupo and Wellington following the earlier withdrawal from Masterton, Wanaka and Oamaru. With the replacement of the Beech 1900s with Q300s Hokitika and Taupo have lost their overnight services and Timaru has a less than adequate service for early morning flights into South Canterbury with a late afternoon return. The tragedy in my opinion was all the work that Eagle Air and Air Nelson did to develop these routes has been lost.

In saying that Westport seems more than happy with their Sounds Air service. From my observation the Taupo run seems a bit slower on the uptake but anyone who does use it loves it. Whakatane love their Air Chathams service and as has been reported their is the possibility of a Wellington service. Certainly both Whakatane and Westport have owned their new airlines and both airlines care about the communities they serve. It becomes then a mutual win win for town and airlines. 

Barrier Air have had a harder job on the Kaitaia run but it seems to have bedded down a lot better with two flights a day operating to Auckland, albeit one operating via Whangarei. Sadly for Barrier the new Air New Zealand schedule from November will have a Q300 almost replicating their new Auckland-Whangarei service.

One wonders then if some of the regional airlines can actually do a much better job. I really do think Air New Zealand should think about doing some interline agreements with them - even just for baggage and late connections. People are flying the regionals and if their passengers fly to a major centre they then have a choice of airline to connect with... Why fly Air New Zealand when they offer nothing to encourage people to connect with their services?

One wonders if there is room for a regional airline to pick up early morning services from Kerikeri to Auckland (the return of Salt Air?), from Taupo to Auckland (the return of Taupo Air Services?) from Hokitika or Greymouth to Wellington (the return of Air West Coast?). I still think Masterton-Auckland is a possibility as well as Oamaru-Wellington. Perhaps an airline with an Aero Commander 690 could test the market before putting a Metroliner on the market?

Before I leave Air NZ the Hamilton-Palmerston North will reduce to one flight a day from late August BUT is back to two flights a day from November! 

On other fronts, Kiwi Regional keep trucking up and down the country. Their plan had been to go daily by now but they are staying with a five day a week schedule. This was probably quite wise. In the end it seems to me that there is not a lot of room for them to move without tackling Air New Zealand.

All remains quiet on the Originair front. I would have thought that the Nelson-Palmerston North would be a good fit for Sounds Air or Air2there but there have been no moves in that direction.

Barrier Air is still offering some Hamilton-Auckland services. I want to try this service at some point (especially if the Partenavia is doing the run) but the schedule is not great. I think Barrier Air needs to really do its homework as to who that service is for and really target advertising accordingly. 

And speaking of advertising - Sunair. I love seeing what Sunair is doing. They have a fairly solid service between Gisborne, the Bay of Plenty and Hamilton with one or two flights operating most days. Sunair aren't cheap (though they have daily specials) and they fly when they have traffic. But they save a huge drive especially if people are doing a day return trip and this is the niche market for this run. But they don't advertise. I wonder how many people know of their services. The new North Shore service is a point in case. I've heard that it has flown but I haven't seen it on Flightaware. I think it was a shame they pulled out of Napier. With no Air New Zealand connection via Auckland there surely must be some traffic to Hamilton and/or Tauranga. And with the growth in Tauranga is there room for flights from there to Palmerston North or New Plymouth? Just wondering!

Stewart Island Flights, Golden Bay Air, Air2there and Fly My Sky seem content with their niche services and there doesn't seem a lot of room for development of additional services.

And of course then there is Jetstar... haven't heard a lot but I have hasn't spoken of high load factors. One wonders!

Well this should generate a bit of comment!

Enjoy the weekend



  1. I think the overnighting in Kerikeri and Whangarei is to reduce operating costs on these routes.

    Air NZ sees Kerikeri as a 'tourist' service for the Bay of Islands region, so they are probably modifying the AKL/KKE/AKL services for tourists who are connecting with domestic/international flights from AKL, as oppose to the business market.

    With regards to Whangarei being the largest population in the Northland region, I would suspect Air NZ is only looking at the leisure/business market connecting with domestic/international flights ex AKL.

    In essence they are leaving the local market up to the 2nd/3rd level carriers to sort out.

    The way is Air NZ is moving, I think they see 2nd/3rd level operators can do the job better without Air NZ having the high cost of operating financially marginal regional routes.

    This allows new opportunities for 2nd/3rd level operators to carve out their niche markets, like Soundsair, KRA, Barrier Air, etc, leaving Air NZ to concentrate on Jetstar.

    With regards to Q300/ATR72 fleet utilization, Air NZ is expecting 12th and 13th ATR72-600's shortly, so fine tuning their regional services, will allow them have the right equipment ready for Jetstar route expansion from latter this year.

    1. Agree, there will be 53 Air NZ turboprops by the end of the ATR deliveries in 2020.

      The ATRs are freeing up Q300 aircraft to operate better schedules to the smaller centres and beefing up capacity on popular routes.
      This is taking some time, currently engineering heavy checks and also livery changes mean the schedules are chopping and changing a bit over the course of this year, they do aim to do this during lull periods.

      Many markets have or will finally have the schedules they want, this is evident for places such as GIS, NSN, NPE, NPL, PMR, BHE, WAG, IVC and DUD.

      Perspective needs to be cast on this vast operation.
      A Q300 is a $20 million asset that needs to be deployed where it will best serve and thus earn the best return. So when available aircraft is tight, the best performing markets will be looked after first.
      It also needs to receive regular line maintenance. This was previously done in places like NPE, IVC, NSN where several aircraft would overnight together, however these ports will become ATR overnight ports. So AKL may become more attractive for basic Q300 line maintenance to be performed there, while more heavy checks remain in NSN. - Specilative only, but that would justify so many AKL originating single aircraft overnights being stopped.
      3 crew overnights really arnt that expensive on the grand scheme of things, would be suprised if that was the driving reason.

      The ATR is the JQ weapon with superior operating economics where demand exists.

      It is important to note that October is a long way away in the airline world, this is a volatile market that changes by the weeks and days.
      The plan going forward is to be very flexible in swapping Q300 and ATR capacity at relatively short notice to best serve individual routes.
      There is gauranteed to be more changes made to the October onward schedule over the remaining course of the year.
      Public feedback now, but more so stake holder feedback and actual business customers (not just the finger tapper keyboard warriors) is crucial.

    2. I agree, that Air NZ wants to mix and match aircraft to schedules, so they can stay ahead of Jetstar.

      HLZ will still have overnight crewing for ATR's on weekdays and Q300's on the weekends.

      I read somewhere, that Air Nelson is doing cabin upgrades on the Q300's. Is this true?

    3. Kris the first phase of the interior upgrades is now complete, at a cost of around $1.2 million for the fleet. The new interiors were installed in Nelson.
      A second phase for the interior refit will include new arm rests and potentially LED lighting at additional cost.

  2. Overnighting crew costs make up a tiny fraction of operating costs and are not the driving reason behind the changes. Some of the schedule changes will actually see more crews overnighting in certain locations as the last crew in won't be able to do the first flight out due to the timings and minimum rest requirements.

  3. By the looks of the schedule of GIS, from November, neither the Auckland or Wellington first flight off, will be able to be crewed by the last crews in. Indicating 4 crews a night in GS.

  4. The main issue with early departures is the crew rest requirement as others have alluded to. The Mt Cook flights ex Napier in the morning were regularly late departing the next morning due to crew and duty time limits from the late arrival the night before.

    1. Yes you're totally right. A pilot must take a 10 hour rest before continuing duty if they fly their maximum 8 hour or do their maximum 11 hour duty

    2. Ah nope minimum rest is between duties, not if they're doing a full day

    3. "Yes you're totally right. A pilot must take a 10 hour rest before continuing duty if they fly their maximum 8 hour or do their maximum 11 hour duty"


    4. Sorry typo - I was mrani to type between duties. LOL

    5. I do agree with your comment about Napier. But the Crew on ATRs do get good rest unless delayed. NZ5486 from CHC arrives 19:15 and departs following day 06:40 basically giving you nearly 12 hours. Than you have NZ5207 from AKL which departs the following day at 06:50am. And the other one from WLG NZ5242/NZ8446 arrive at 19:50/20:00 depart at 07:00 the next morning and with same with JetStar so pilots get good rest for Napier flights

    6. Crews must have 10 hours rest between duties.

      The sign on time, which is usually about 1 hour prior to departure includes flight planning and aircraft/cabin pre flight checks for first flight of the day.
      For a 0640 departure the crew will be at the airport by 0550. Meaning the crews will be away from about 0430 getting ready for work and having breakfast, taxi commute etc.
      'Good rest' is never a term used on min rest 10 hour overnights.

    7. *awake from

  5. Im interested in whats going to happen to TRG. Will Jetstar take on Air NZ on the AKL route to feed into their international/domestic services?

    TRG have also lost their overnight mt cook crew for the early morning CHC route.
    Considering the growth of the city. Surely Air NZ or Jetstar have some big plans for the city?

    1. Ive heard that Jetstar are actively looking at TRG. Not sure if it will come for another couple of years though. Would be good to take on Air NZ on the AKL route. They charge ridiculosuy high fares for this 30min flight. If they connect TRG will AKL they can feed to SYD, MEL, OOL, BNE etc and also get great domestic feed too WLG, CHC, ZQN, DUD, PMR, NSN.

      Im really starting to think it could be really good route for Jetstar. It would further strengthen their international and domestic hub at AKL.

      Air NZ are up to 7xQ300 daily in October....

    2. Yes Jetstar could easily start TRG from AKL and ROT or WRE as well there is a lot of down time in the existing schedules they have 5 Dash 8s in NZ but only need 3.5 to cover all their scheduled flying. I expect they will increase utilisation once they have bedded down their operations. EK, OF and AA will also codeshare with JQ on these regional routes. But I don't see them taking their Dash 8s all the way down to IVC as their operation will end up to fragmented. So it will remain AKL focused for the time beging. As at the moment there is no more Dash 8s spare in Australia all 14 are fully used by Eastern Australian airlines.

  6. I know this is unrealistic but how about KRA flying to WRE?
    They could overnight the second 340 that they are planning on purchasing there. Early morning departure to Wellington and return in the evening. Air NZ B1900 direct flights were always full, and with no early departure to connect with AKL-WLG flights now KRA could pick up 33 passengers no worries. Business passengers never had a problem paying over $300 each way with Air NZ so KRA could charge a price to make the route profitable.

    Perhaps it goes against the KRA philosophy of only chasing recreational passengers and not going head to head with air nz.

    1. OMG they could have the two aircraft (when they get 2) go opposite directions on this route:
      Plane 1:
      Plane 2:

      I realise that would go head to head with Air NZ but one day they're gonna have to challenge Air NZ or Air NZ wI'll challenge them.

    2. Damn that is such a good idea!
      Someone please forward this on to Ewan Wilson!

    3. I think KRA should work on servicing current routes first before expanding. Flights cancled on Sunday & again today due to maintenence.

  7. Jetstar could easily enter the TRG market as they have 5 Q300s here in NZ. But at the moment they only using 3.5 to cover the existing schedules. They could launch ROT also in the current gaps. Be interesting to see what happens in the year ahead.

  8. It makes sense for JQ to look at AKL/TRG/AKL service, as TRG is New Zealand's 5th largest city and growing.

    If JQ does include TRG into their regional network, Air NZ would use ATR72's close to the times that JQ operates but it would bring fares down.

  9. Yes agreed. The route is Air NZ busiest to akl that has no competition. In my opinion it would be a very smart choice once they have some synergy with their regional operations. Catchment area of 130,000 people and one of the lowest landing fees on the Air NZ regional network!

    2-3 times daily would be awesome for the city and make the city far more accessible.

  10. Saw a PC12 of sounds air in Greymouth today, interesting when considering the lack of time tables out of Hokitika that suits the travelling business people, anyone got any goss

  11. Did you take a photo??? I wondered the same thing though I suspect since it came from Chch it was on a charter. Interesting the PC12 was able to do a GMN-CHC-GMN return this afternoon while Air NZ canned the afternoon Q300 to Hokitika

    1. Sounds Air should consider Picton to Christchurch they serve Wellington 4 per day from that town already.