Air NZ's cuts rile Taupo businesses

Air New Zealand's attempts to defend its decision to pull out of the Taupo-Wellington route have been labelled a "waste of time" by those attending a meeting with businesses in the tourist town.

The meeting was held yesterday after the airline announced cuts to its regional services.

Air NZ chief sales and commercial officer Cam Wallace told the crowd of about 50 people that using the 19-seater aircraft being phased out lost the company $26 per person per flight. This resulted in a $1 million loss each month, and it was not economically viable to offer the larger 50-seater service.

"Taupo to Wellington - that's not a market, we don't want to be in [it]."

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But those present struggled to understand how the service was not financially viable, with some asking why an Auckland-Taupo-Wellington route could not be added.

But these ideas didn't fly, with Air NZ reps drawing attention instead to the benefits of the Auckland route.

Taupo District Council member and business owner Rosie Harvey said she was sick of it being "all about Auckland".

"We're [Taupo] the events capital of the North Island. It's time we were looked after."

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Wallace made it clear Air NZ had no interest in re-entering the Taupo to Wellington market, stating its future was more looking at different options for the route.

"We are more than supportive of any player coming in, and more importantly we will help support them."

Mayor David Trewavas said the council had had a few approaches from people looking to step in.

Wairaki resort manager Kathy Guy said with the Wellington flights ending from April 2015, and the Auckland to Taupo flights not going to 50-seaters until February 2016, the region was being left short.

"Our business had a huge exponential increase, now this has been a real blow for us.

" . . . Trying to get people into Taupo has become so difficult, they're saying, 'it's all too hard and we're going to go somewhere else'."

kirsty.lawrence@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

 - Waikato Times

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