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Air New Zealand turboprops grounded by 130km/h winds

written by Adam Thorn | July 17, 2021
A satellite image showing torrential rain and 130km/h winds over New Zealand on Saturday (BBC)

Torrential rain, fog and 130km/h winds across New Zealand have grounded many of its flag carrier’s turboprop aircraft.

On Saturday alone, 64 flights arriving or departing from Wellington were cancelled and 58 from Auckland.

The bad weather has led to a state of emergency being declared in the Buller and Marlborough regions, with reports roofs were blown off homes in Wellington.

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Air New Zealand said in a statement that Wellington, New Plymouth and Nelson are the worst affected ports, while Auckland, Whangarei, Kerikeri, Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua, Gisborne and Timaru are also affected.

“Multiple regional turbo-prop services have been cancelled or significantly delayed this morning and this disruption is likely to impact the schedule for much of the day and into Sunday,” said the business in a statement released on Saturday.

“Disrupted customers are being offered road transportation options where possible, and the airline is adding additional services to its schedule tomorrow to re-accommodate customers.

“Jet services are currently operating largely as normal with some delays into and out of Auckland.”

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Customers who no longer need to travel can transfer to another flight within 72 hours or hold their fare value in credit.

Air New Zealand has a fleet of 28 ATR 72 and 23 Dash 8 turboprops. A turboprop engine is a turbine engine that drives a more traditional propeller, as opposed to the more common jet engines on larger aircraft.

Local reports of the escalating situation have revealed a man was rescued by helicopter from the roof of his car on Motueka River.

It’s reported floodwaters engulfed his car and campervan while he was asleep.

The disruption will be particularly damaging for Air New Zealand, given it has coincided with the school holidays.

Australian Aviation reported last month how the flag carrier would add another 268 one-way services to its schedule during the July break.

The new batch of flights to regional areas are operating until 19 July and include 14 return services between Wellington-Nelson and 13 services between Christchurch-Invercargill and Christchurch-Palmerston North.
Other destinations covered include Blenheim, Dunedin, Gisborne, Hamilton, Kerikeri, Napier, New Plymouth, Rotorua, Timaru, Tauranga and Whangarei.

The school holiday announcements come in addition to a broader increase in domestic capacity from 20 to 55 per cent in July and August, including restarting its direct A320 service between Auckland and Invercargill.

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