Air New Zealand has moved quickly to announce a big boost to trans-Tasman capacity as it repositions itself on its biggest market after axing its alliance with Virgin Australia.
The airline announced Monday it would increase overall capacity between Australia and New Zealand by 15 per cent as it compensates for the loss of its Australian alliance partner.
The move is likely to be good news for passengers because significant capacity increases usually mean lower fares.
The increase includes two new routes to operate from December 18. The carrier will operate to four times a week between Queenstown and Brisbane and up to five times a week between Wellington and Brisbane.
The new routes will boost international capacity out of Queenstown by 20 per cent and by 15 per cent out of Wellington.
From October 28, it will move to double daily services on peak days on Christchurch-Melbourne and Christchurch-Brisbane
This and a boost to double daily Monday-to-Friday services on Christchurch-Sydney will see capacity from the South Island city increase by 15 per cent, or 35,000 seats.
“Air New Zealand will also offer 125,000 additional trans-Tasman seats ex Auckland, including a new business timed morning flight to Melbourne, more evening flights to Brisbane and a new middle of the day flight to Sydney,’’ the airline said.
The airline surprised industry figures in Australia on April 4 with its announcement it was ending its seven-year trans-Tasman alliance with Virgin and turning its back on the domestic feed from the Australian carrier’s network.
Air New Zealand chief revenue officer Cam Wallace told AirlineRatings a trigger for the decision was the costly and time-consuming process of renewing the alliance when it expires in October and uncertainty about approval after the withdrawal from the trans-Tasman of Qantas partner Emirates.
The Kiwi carrier said all customers booked on an Air New Zealand ticket to travel on a Virgin Australia aircraft after 27 October 2018 would be moved across to Air New Zealand operated services in the next few weeks.
It said there was no need for action by the customers; they would be contacted by either the airline or the booking agent regarding the change.