Air NZ cancels cheap, late flights

Last updated 16:39 14/01/2014

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Air New Zealand's popular late-night cheap flights connecting Auckland to Wellington and Christchurch have been quietly cut, with no confirmation they will return, angering some customers.

The national carrier launched the Night Rider flights between Auckland and the capital in November 2012, selling all seats on the last flights of the day each way between the two cities, for $29.

The discount service was expanded to include Auckland to Christchurch flights in November last year for a limited period, with $39 fares.

The original flights between Auckland and Wellington aimed to meet growing demand on the route and stimulate tourism.

However, despite the popularity of the 14-month operation, an airline spokeswoman said all Night Rider flights would end on January 31, with no commitment they would return.

The remaining Night Rider flights have sold out and the cheapest seats on the last standard flight of the day between the cities were more than double the Night Rider fares.

Commuters vented their frustration at the lack of communication about the service stopping and the inability to book the discounted fares on its remaining days.

"I think @FlyAirNZ Night Rider is a hoax/myth. No online booking and call centre lady sounded nervous! Shady," tweeted Jessica Hansell to the airline.

Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon said Night Rider was always a promotional service.

"We use it as a tactical move. In Christchurch we thought it was a great stimulant to growing that market and it was good for the city," Luxon said.

Night Rider fares had been popular and the decision to withdraw the service was not due to slowing sales, he said.

"It's about where and when we would use that same vehicle again ... they are so cheap so it's about us managing it and using it in the right way."

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- The Dominion Post

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