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Air NZ ups capacity on domestic routes

NZN 27/04/2017 Paul McBeth

National carrier Air New Zealand beefed up domestic capacity in the face of rising passenger numbers, particularly on Auckland-to-Queenstown routes.

This showed up in higher domestic passenger movements in Auckland International Airport's latest figures.

Auckland-based Air NZ increased passenger numbers 5.2 per cent to 1.61 million in March from the same month a year earlier and expanded its available seat kilometres (ASK) 4.1 per cent to 4057 million, it said in a monthly investor update.

Of that, domestic passenger numbers climbed 8.3 per cent to 1.09 million and ASK climbed 7.9 per cent to 672 million.

Air New Zealand said this was due to "increased services on Auckland-Queenstown and the main trunk routes, as well as growth on the regional routes resulting from up-gauging to larger aircraft".

Auckland Airport's monthly traffic figures show domestic passenger movements rose 8.4 per cent to 807,401 in March, outpacing a 6.6 per cent gain in international passengers excluding transits to 397,706.

Domestic aircraft movements increased 6.3 per cent to 10,549. Queenstown airport, which is quarter-owned by Auckland Airport, posted an 11 per cent increase in domestic passenger numbers in March to 132,086, even as domestic plane movements slipped 1.6 per cent to 959.

Air NZ is the country's dominant carrier on domestic routes, although Qantas Airways subsidiary Jetstar has been making inroads on an expanded New Zealand offering in recent years, including joining the government's list of preferred travel suppliers for local travel.

The airline's update shows domestic passenger numbers have climbed 5.8 per cent to 7.86 million in the nine months to March 31.

The tourism sector has been a major leg to the country's economic growth over the past year as cheap oil prices lured airlines to open more marginal routes and foreign travellers were less deterred by New Zealand's geographical distance.

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