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Direct flights so limited it’s not really a service

Opinion Piece

Re: Air NZ services to Gisborne.

Your editorial on Thursday night is timely following up on John Clarke’s identification of the costly airfares problem for this district.

My understanding has been that local business and council organisations had brokered a deal with Air NZ a few years ago that would solve this problem. I did notice back then an improvement in service for a while but that seems to have lapsed, especially for connections to Wellington. Although one early morning and one late afternoon flight are direct, all flights during normal working hours are now directed through Auckland at fares up to $428 one way and taking up to 7.5 hrs compared to a 1hr 15min direct connection. To my mind that is not a “service”!

There are several flights Auckland to Gisborne or vice versa through the afternoon but none late morning.

Similarly, as stated above, there is nothing direct Gisborne to Wellington between the 6.30am and 4.30pm week-day flights, or between the 8.55am and 6.45pm Wellington to Gisborne flights.

How hard would it be to dump one of the afternoon Auckland flights and replace it with a 9.30 or 10am Auck-Gis flight which could then carry on down to Wellington, arriving in time for business people to do a half day in Wellington and catch the late afternoon flight back? That through flight arriving in Wellington at about midday or 12.15 could turn around for a return Wgtn-Gis-Auck flight enabling early morning Gis-Wgtn commuters to get back home mid-afternoon, and Auck-Gis commuters to get back to Auckland in time to catch the grid-lock!? (Maybe that could help promote the Auckland Airport rail service too?)

Alternatively a double Wgtn-Gis-Wgtn service late morning and early afternoon may be viable.

The point of this letter is to highlight the total lack of a viable direct air service during the day to and from Wellington. The transfer from Wellington Airport to the CBD is only 20 minutes which, unlike Auckland, makes a half-day business trip to Wellington viable. An air service providing that option would also provide an option for tourists, school parties, families or mothers with small children, who can’t reasonably get to the early morning flight, to make the trip either way in a hospitable time frame and at a manageable cost.

All support to John and to Rehette Stoltz — it is indeed time to reopen the discussion.

John Wells