Mayors resigned to losing Air NZ base

Hawke's Bay looks likely to lose its Air New Zealand base, despite protests from the region's mayors.

Proposed changes to Air NZ services to and from Napier could see the region lose 36 jobs as staff are asked to shift to larger centres.

Napier and Hastings mayors Bill Dalton and Lawrence Yule raised their concerns at a meeting yesterday, but realised there was little they could say to change the company's mind.

Yule said Air NZ made it clear it was logistically too difficult and uneconomical to maintain its Napier base because of planned fleet changes. Some of the existing 50-seat Q300 aircraft will be replaced by larger 68-seat ATR72s from February next year.

There would still be the same number of aircraft servicing Napier, and the larger planes would operate the same number of flights, Air NZ spokeswoman Emma Field said.

Instead of having the three Q300s that currently stayed overnight, there would be two ATRs and one Q300.

The changes would affect some of Air Nelson's Napier-based pilot and cabin crew.

The larger aircraft would bring more people into the region, as well as helping to keep airfares down with lower operating costs per seat.

Dalton said the changes were a mixed bag for the region. Losing one job was "one job too many".

But he was comforted by the news that it would help keep fares down, and accommodation providers would benefit from staff staying overnight.

"It [the meeting] has alleviated my fears."

Yule agreed, saying unfortunately it would still affect staff, but the region could benefit from more people arriving.

"If you attract more tourists, you might create jobs in other sectors."

The Dominion Post