Air New Zealand’s General Manager Short Haul, Jeremy O’Brien responded on Thursday last week to BCN News questions about the flight capacity issues raised in parliament on Monday.
In an email statement, O’Brien said “We know how important the Air New Zealand services in to and out of Niue are to the local community. While we would love to be able to put on additional flights to many of our regions, due to limited aircraft availability this is not possible. As with all of our routes, we monitor demand closely to ensure there’s enough capacity to meet the needs of the region.”
Members of parliament last week questioned Premier Dalton Tagelagi over the debacle with full flights for the next several weeks which saw families asking passengers to give up their seats so they can attend funerals in Auckland.
Premier Dalton Tagelagi told the Fono Ekepule that there is still no current Air Services Agreement with Air New Zealand and this is not just for Niue, other Pacific destinations are in the same predicament with Air New Zealand.He told the Fono Ekepule that his officials are in regular communication with Air New Zealand and are optimistic that an air services agreement may be ready next year.
According to O’Brien Air New Zealand sales to Niue have been very popular and they will continue to offer those sales where possible. “Since the borders opened to Niue, we have had ten sales for flights to the region. These were incredibly popular, so we will continue to offer sales where possible”.
BCN News understands that Air New Zealand sometimes uses the A321 aircraft with a capacity of about 210 seats but most of the time Air New Zealand uses the smaller A320 aircraft which can only carry 158 passengers.
The other issue raised in parliament was the expensive airfares. Locals over the past few months have taken to social media asking why the airfares are very expensive.
“We do our best to offer a range of fares to ensure travel is accessible for all customers. Generally speaking, last minute travel will always be more expensive than booking in advance. This is to ensure there are still seats available for those that need to travel last minute and the services don’t sell out if they are all at the lowest price point”, said Jeremy O’Brien.
Common Roll MP O’love Jacobsen called on Premier Tagelagi to speak directly with New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins to do something about this situation with Air New Zealand. Premier Dalton Tagelagi is leaving today to attend several meetings including the Forum Leaders meeting in the Cook Islands, returning at the end of the month.
Air New Zealand is the only airline servicing Niue, flying in once a week from Auckland. In November the Airlines will fly two flights a week until early 2024.