Southern cities summer flights soar

Last updated 17:02 21/05/2014

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Air New Zealand and alliance partner Virgin Australia will increase seats from Australia to Christchurch and Queenstown by almost 80,000.

Between November and March 2015 the airlines will add 36,000 seats between Queenstown and Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne by adding up to seven extra trans-Tasman services per week.

Over the same period the airlines will add 43,000 seats on the Christchurch to Sydney route.

The airlines will operate morning and evening Christchurch to Sydney services seven days a week from November to February.

Air New Zealand's chief sales and commercial officer Cam Wallace said the move to twice daily on the route was driven by strong demand, the airline hoped to build on by working with Virgin Australia and their extensive domestic Australian network.

Air New Zealand owns close to 25 per cent of Virgin Australia and the trans-Tasman alliance between the two includes flights from Christchurch to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Coolangatta as well as a seasonal service to Perth.

Flights between Chirstchurch and the other Australian ports will not increase.

Christchurch Airport general manager of aeronautical business development Matthew Findlay said the extra flights made sense as demand was outstripping supply on the route.

''Over this past summer, flights across the Tasman to Christchurch have never been fuller.  Record load factors have proven there is demand for added capacity and bodes well for the upcoming summer period,'' Findlay said.

New Zealand travellers flying beyond Australia, from Christchurch airport, now had greater choice of connections in Australia. he said.

Queenstown airport has this month received the first stage of regulatory approval to begin night flights in and out of the city.

Air New Zealand said all its aircraft operating trans-Tasman services into Queenstown had been equipped with advanced satellite-based navigation  technology, allowing them to take off and land in low visibility conditions, which have traditionally caused schedule disruptions at the airport. 

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