Air New Zealand announced today that it is to cut two flights a week from its schedule between Wellington and Australia next year.
The DomPost reports that the airline will drop “an occasional third daily return flight” from Wellington to Sydney in January, and in February it will reduce its return flights to Melbourne from seven days a week to six.
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown told the DomPost she didn’t expect the cuts to impact on passenger numbers when there are over 50 flights per week connecting Wellington with Australia.
The was followed this morning by a media release from mayoral candidate John Morrison, who said the two cuts a week were “a serious body blow for Wellington.” He described them as “bad news that should not have been hidden till after the elections.”
Media release from John Morrison
Wellington Mayoral candidate John Morrison said the loss of air services to Melbourne and Sydney, with Brisbane under review is a serious economic body blow for Wellington and was bad news that should not have been hidden from the public till after the elections.
It was scandalous that the current Mayor has kept Wellingtonians in the dark for two months for political gain. She had only been flushed out and forced to make this confession after Morrison yesterday became aware of what was going on.
He urged the 8 out of 10 Wellingtonians who have not yet voted to put (1) next to his name on the ballot paper, mark only those candidates they knew or liked leaving the rest blank and post their papers in to the electoral office or “face three more years of the same”.
“For the current Mayor to downplay the importance and parrot Air New Zealand’s limp response that the cuts were minor and in line with seasonal demand, clearly demonstrates once again we have a leader who is out-of-touch economic realities and was prepared to let Wellington continue to gurgle down the drain.”
“You have to wonder what’s going on,” Morrison said. “The statistics show visitor numbers jumping from 114,000 to 134,000, as identified by the DominionPost, but an Air New Zealand spokesman pops up with inside knowledge and justifies the cuts by saying the other two big carriers would not be reducing their services.”
Morrison said if he is elected to office his first job would be to start a recovery and fight back to have the services to Sydney and Melbourne retained and get Air New Zealand to lift the threat of chopping Brisbane flights.
“I am already approaching leading Wellington business interests and asking them to clear their diaries and join me on October 14. We need decisive and strong leadership to champion Wellington’s case and I will address this issue front on.
“How can we rebuild the Wellington economy when the national airline carrier doesn’t have confidence in the nation’s Capital? What message does that send out to businesses, tourists and overseas students?”
The issue was so big and so important it needed to be addressed now and Wellington needed to go on the front foot, rather than try to hide the bad news because it was election time.
“It is another example of an Auckland vortex dragging everything it can from the rest of NZ and it seemed Air NZ wanted to intensify the Auckland and Christchurch hubs at Wellington’s expense.
“It is another nail in the coffin and a legacy of the Wade Brown Mayoralty. She is out on the hustings supporting an airport extension, when she secretly knows that some of our key Trans-Tasman services are scheduled for the chop.
“Our children, grandchildren and friends are being driven away to places like Melbourne and Sydney for work. Now our connection with our families is being further eroded and our costs will escalate. If you have to fly on the reduced service days it means a trip to Auckland or Christchurch that will add another half a day to the journey time.
Morrison said the service cuts will seriously impact on Wellington’s tourism and foreign student schools.
“I have been building Trans-Tasman bridges through business and events that absolutely rely on regular, predictable and cost-competitive Trans-Tasman flights.”
Morrison said Wellington’s regular Trans-Tasman links was a significant factor for the Call Centre business CallActive establishing in the Capital with the intention of going global and potentially creating 1500 to 2000 jobs over the next few years.
Wellington was also the home of Super Rugby, A-League Football, ANZ Netball and the away home of the AFL St Kilda Saints Trans-Tasman sporting franchises.
“We should have thousands of fans criss-crossing the Tasman every week and I am confident that I can go to Melbourne and Sydney and find another half dozen businesses like CallActive, who haven’t been introduced to what Wellington can offer them and the business advantages they can potentially achieve.”