Air New Zealand says it is ending a seasonal Tokyo to Christchurch service in favour of extra frequencies on its Auckland-Tokyo route.
Previously, Air NZ in the summer months operated a triangular Auckland-Tokyo Narita-Christchurch-Auckland rotation three times a week on top of its existing Auckland-Tokyo Narita return service.
Those extra flights will not be operating this summer. Instead, Air NZ will boost its Auckland-Tokyo offering to 10 flights a week from December 2015 to March 2016, with the flights timed to connect onto domestic services to Christchurch.
Air NZ chief sales and commercial officer Cam Wallace said the move to end the Tokyo-Christchurch flight was made following market research in Japan with consumers and the travel trade, which found there was “no clear preference to fly into Christchurch”.
“In fact, since we moved to daily Tokyo-Auckland flights our experience is that customers are increasingly choosing to arrive in Auckland rather than Christchurch,” Wallace said in a statement.
From August, all Air NZ flights to Tokyo will be with the Dreamliner, compared with a mix of 787-9 and 767-300s currently.
Air NZ said the move to all-787-9 services also presented some operational challenges for the Tokyo-Christchurch service.
“Not only is it more expensive to fly the extra distance to Christchurch, the aircraft then has to be re-positioned to Auckland to continue operating its scheduled services,” Air NZ said.
“This flight has previously been operated as a domestic Christchurch-Auckland service, but as the 787-9 cannot operate to the Auckland domestic terminal this will no longer be possible meaning the aircraft would need to be repositioned empty adding to the overall cost of operating to Christchurch.”
Wallace acknowledged the decision was a disappointing one for Christchurch tourism stakeholders. However, he said the airline remained committed to supporting the Christchurch and the South Island tourism industry.