WORLD ROUTES: Air New Zealand Boosts Japanese Charter Schedule

Air New Zealand’s 2013/2014 Japanese charter programme is set to bring more than double the number of Japanese visitors to New Zealand during the southern summer compared to the previous year’s programme.  Between December 2013 and March 2014 the airline will operate 29 charter services to New Zealand from eight Japanese cities, bringing around 6,000 Japanese visitors to experience the key tourist regions across the country, in comparison to 14 services carrying 2,800 visitors last summer.

Twenty two of the flights will operate direct into Christchurch, providing an important economic boost to the Canterbury region.  The remainder will fly direct to Auckland and all 29 flights will depart New Zealand from Auckland International Airport.  Japan is New Zealand’s fifth largest source of inbound visitors.

“Japan continues to be a hugely important market for us and it’s really encouraging to see such good year-on-year growth from the region.  With direct flights scheduled from eight Japanese ports these visitors will enjoy a seamless journey without needing to travel via the main gateways,” said Norm Thompson, Deputy chief executive officer and acting chief sales officer, Air New Zealand.

The first of the 29 flights will depart Osaka on December 15 this year and the final flight will return to Japan from Auckland on the March 30, 2014.  They will all be operated using Boeing 767-300ER equipment.  For Christchurch this represents a massive fillip and underscores an ever increasing level of demand for direct access to the South Island. 

In the last couple of months, Singapore Airlines has also announced additional flights to Christchurch Airport to accommodate overwhelming demand for people to visit the region and officials from the airport confirmed to The HUB this week that the facility is also expecting to announce a return to positive growth in international arrivals, and on-going, sustained growth in domestic volumes.

Christchurch Airport has been experiencing strong domestic passenger numbers over the past few months and these volumes will continue to grow with the addition of services to the Kapiti Coast, additional Jetstar frequencies to Auckland and new ‘Night Rider’ services from Air New Zealand which commence this summer.

Air New Zealand launched the ‘Night Rider’ offering on its Auckland – Wellington route earlier this year and its popularity will now see it extended to the Auckland – Christchurch market.  “Night Rider has proven extremely popular with customers since it was introduced between Auckland and Wellington last year and we expect seats will sell out just as fast on the new Christchurch service,” said Cam Wallace, general manager New Zealand and Pacific Islands, Air New Zealand Group.

The concept is based around offering every seat on the last flight of the day between the two cities at what it describes as “ludicrously low prices” and will make its debut on the Christchurch route from November 7, 2013 with every seat on the 9:30pm flights between Auckland and Christchurch in both directions (Thursday – Monday) being sold at the fixed price of just $39 (or $49 for a ‘Seat + Bag’).  

“The Christchurch Night Rider will launch in time for the peak summer holiday season and will allow Aucklanders and Cantabrians to take advantage of cheap airfares to key upcoming events such as Canterbury Cup and Show Week and the Wellington Phoenix A-League match in Christchurch and the Big Day Out in Auckland,” added Wallace.