Cautious nod for Manawatu flight changes

SIOBHAN DOWNES
Last updated 12:33 03/07/2014

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Bigger planes could mean more bang for your buck as Air New Zealand moves to change its flight schedule between Nelson and Palmerston North.

The airline is scrapping its morning flights from February next year and will instead operate one return weekday service using a larger plane.

The return service on Sundays would continue, Air New Zealand spokeswoman Brigitte Ransom said.

The current service uses a 19-seater Beech 1900D aircraft, but moving to a Bombardier Q300 would see capacity increased from 38 to 50 seats per day each way.

"The Q300 aircraft is also much more cost efficient than the Beech aircraft and will enable increased availability of lower priced fares on the route which we expect will help stimulate demand," Ransom said.

Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dot Kettle said the introduction of direct flights between Nelson and Palmerston North had been a success, with good traffic both ways.

"If that means slightly less frequency I think people will be enjoying the reduction in fares," she said.

The feedback she had received showed demand for flights was a mix of leisure and business travel purposes.

Nelson Tasman Tourism domestic marketing manager Angela Hunter welcomed the changes.

"Larger flights will hopefully drive prices down and get those extra travellers staying the night."

Nelson Airport chief executive Kaye McNabb said while it was disappointing to lose frequency, a larger aircraft would hopefully see more people through the terminal.

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- The Nelson Mail

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